I once heard depression described as “anger turned inward.” It makes sense if you think about it. Many of us have anger inside that we don’t know what to do with. Sometimes it’s anger at a specific person. Sometimes, it’s anger at a situation, something we feel is beyond any control of ours. With no place to direct our anger, or inhibited by social politeness and our own upbringing the anger has no place to go, and so we just turn it inward.
We don’t do this consciously, of course. But that’s the way it works. Something else I once heard someone say about depression is that if you’re doing something for someone else, you can’t focus on your own problems. Even for a short while, not thinking about your own feelings is helpful, and a step toward getting back to a more positive frame of mind.
Even when you really don’t want to be around other people, it’s like the walking. You just do it. If you find it easier to be around strangers, there are countless things you can do to help someone you don’t even know.
Several years ago I was looking for something I could do once or twice a week to “help” somebody. I had finished school and was working, but my work schedule allowed me to have two or three days off together. I saw an ad in the local paper asking for volunteers to help with a pet therapy program at a local senior living center. I began doing that; it was twice a week for just a couple of hours each time. There was a veterinarian who was located next to the center, and she provided the animals I would then take over to the “home.”
I’m not able in words to tell you how that felt. Usually the vet provided me with a puppy. I’m a huge animal lover anyway, dogs in particular, and taking that puppy around inside the living center, letting any resident who was interested hold and pet the pup, was an experience I’ll never forget. The look on some of their faces was tremendously moving. Many of these folks had loved dogs and had dogs all their lives, yet now lived where they couldn’t have that companionship. They looked forward very much to these afternoons, and all I had to do was get the puppy to them. The pup did all the rest.
My point is that it doesn’t have to be much, or require much time, or require you to have special skills. Don’t worry about it. Just find something that you can do, to brighten someone else’s life for even just a few brief moments.
Whatever you do, you will remember it and be thankful for it the rest of your life.
What can you do today to brighten someone else’s day?