There are two sources of inspiration for this post, and I must give credit where credit is due. The first is Ann Voskamp's post about her birthday, when she does an act of kindness for every year she's lived. Oh, that post was good.
The second inspiration is my mom, who looked at me, when I was knee-deep in anxious, no-hope living, and said, "Jessica, you are holding a mirror to your face. You're miserable, because all you see is yourself."
See, both these wise women (Ann and my mom) know the secret.
When you feel down, help others. It's the only way to happiness.
I feel like I should add a disclaimer here. Because here I am, claiming to cure you of all your depression, and who am I to say what you can and can't do. I don't know your burdens - some of you crushing under the weight of tremendous grief and tragedy.
Yet, I think I tentatively say it. The secret remains the same. And the secret is, slowly, as much as you possibly can, focus on others. It seems impossible. And it is, really.
But He helps us.
If you feel down today, whether it's everyday blues, or a crushing life tragedy, here are ten ways to look outward...and find joy.
- Love on your pastor. This year, we organized a surprise "email flash mob" for our pastor. He woke up one morning to an entire day of "thank-you" emails.
- Find someone else who is down, and help them. We have a neighbor who's suffered a lot this year, and we're showering her with 30 acts of kindness for every day in December. (Because, a shared peppermint mocha reminds you that you're not alone.)
- Plan a spontaneous outing with your kids. I loved the part in this book where things are really looking bleak, and Sally plans a giant donut party for the family. I want to be like that.
- Plan someone's birthday party. Who cares if it's months away. I promise you 100% you will feel better after fifteen brainstorming minutes.
- Write your Compassion child.
- Text three people, right now, and tell them "thank you" for something. I did this last year, and my dad said my little note made the biggest impact on him. (That makes two of us.)
- If you have a spouse, think of one nice thing you can do for them TODAY.
- Plan and host an if:Table. (I just did and it was awesome.)
As you've probably realized, I've just given a few specific ideas to get the ball rolling. I'm sure you can think of many others based on your own particular community. Turn your focus outward, and you will always, always, feel better. It's amazing how the Lord designed it that way!
No example of this is more encouraging to me than the one I read about Corrie ten Boom's family. I will never get this example out of my head.
And it has been the most incredible, life-changing lesson. That I don't have to depend on my circumstances to be happy. If you struggle with perfectionism, like I do, be encouraged: there is hope!
Do you have any other creative ways to focus on others when you're down?