This morning my vice was i100, the Independent's hateful expanded Twitter feed of headlines and provocative sign offs designed with the intention of getting people (like me) to contemplate life and war on Facebook.
The article was a listicle (of course it was), detailing 9 simple things I could do, right now, in order to be happier. I hated myself for clicking, but click I did.
Apparently if you go for a nice walk, list all the things you're grateful for and "invite someone to tea" (I'm not even fucking joking about this), you'll feel like your heart has begun to glow beatifically.
Total nonsense I think you'll agree, so here is my offering to the world on the same subject.
Find at least three hobbies and obsess over them in your down-time
Remember when you were a teenager and playing the guitar was the one and only thing you cared about in the whole world? Was there a year or two of your life that you spent building dirt ramps for your bike or sawing up bits of wood to make a go kart or playing Final Fantasy 7 or Goldeneye or Abe's Odyssey or learning how to do an Ollie without your pants falling down? Did you hide crates of Fosters and bottles of Hooch in the woods near the park, wait until it got dark and then drink on the swings with your mosher mates sharing headphones and Richmond Superkings?
Weren't you happier then?
Of course, when you look back on your teenage years, there's every chance you believe that you were very unhappy. Being a teenager is really shit. However, the one saving grace of every adolescence is the amount of time available to devote to any given hobby. Hobbies are fantastic. They are often the only outlet you have where your actual passions can reveal themselves.
I have a lot of hobbies. I'm a pretty morbid person when I'm left in my own company, so keeping busy doing things I enjoy is a necessity. If you're the same way as me, give something new a go. I picked up crocheting last year and I can't get enough of it. I also relentlessly scroll through Instagram for tattoo artists' accounts and I recently started going to guitar lessons again after a 10 year hiatus. Do your brain a favour and think about something else other than your own mortality for a change.
|Another hobby - going for walks and looking at interesting geological features. Look, a nice bit of conglomerate!|
Make peace with people who pissed you off more than three years ago
The best thing about this advice is that there are no obligations to be made, it's just a way to make yourself feel better, no strings attached.
The trick here is to think about the people who you try not to think about, just for a moment. Why don't you speak anymore? Were they a dick? Were you a dick? Can you even remember?
Now you have three options: Resolve the issues internally, write out a letter or send them a message on Facebook.
Resolving internally is the easiest to cheat at but the hardest to actually do. It involves thinking about why you still hate this person and coming to the genuine conclusion that this is not necessary, useful or healthy. Forgive them as much as you can and promise yourself that you're going to move on. Then move on.
Writing out a letter is my favourite way of exorcising demons. Write a long, heartfelt letter to the person in question. Include everything that you're upset about, include your own misgivings, capitalise it if it makes you feel better. Then, when you're done, read it. Then read it again. Then tear it up and bin it. You have no idea how good it feels to finally get all of these things out of your system. Bonus: The offending party will never know.
A message on Facebook is the ballsiest way to be a coward and I've only done this a couple of times. Basically, do the same as you would do when writing a letter, but with the intention of sending it to the person who upset you. Then read it. Then send it. Bonus: Frank and honest messages on Facebook are terrifying and you will almost never receive a response.
Stop being such a miserable bastard all the time
I know the last thing you ever want to hear when you're feeling low is that you need to pull yourself together. I know as well as anybody that depression is not something you can just sort out by putting on your busywork hat and getting on with life.
After dealing with depression for most of my life, I've learned that when I'm feeling good I can put some of that good feeling in storage for later. What I'm trying to say is this; When you're feeling good, don't waste it. On days where the sun seems a bit brighter and interaction seems a bit easier, lean into it. There's nothing wrong with being happy. If driving to work in the sunshine blasting Haim with the sunroof open makes you grin like a Staffordshire Terrier (and of course it does because it's one of the greatest feelings in the world) then let yourself grin.
It makes it easier to believe that good times do return.
|A happy staffie. Look how happy! Just because of a ball!|
Find a way to enjoy living more healthily
THE WORST ONE. SORRY GUYS.
There's no way around this and believe me, I've tried. The absolute truth is, being more healthy impacts your wellbeing more than anythinge else you can do.
I don't believe that exercise alone can beat depression, however the goals and achievements you set and reach while doing it can make you feel a lot better about yourself. I'm not on about self-improvement because I have no right to tell anybody that they aren't already the best person they can be. What I do believe though, is that trying to be even a little bit more healthy helps you to recover from illness, helps you to be able to walk further and run faster and it helps you to improve your state of mind.
I run when I can and eat more veg than I used to and as a result I'm getting to vent out any aggression, think through my problems (there's not much else to do when you're running), take more care when it comes to deciding what to eat and I get a whole lot of superficial bonuses too.
Going to the doctors when you're sick counts too. Stop suffering from recurring colds and flu, weird pains or undiagnosed allergies and sort it out. You are worth looking after.