Sunday, February 19, 2012

My Rules for Life

A lot of times people ask me, "Kujo, how come you so happy all the time?" (Disclaimer: no one ever really asks me this) I actually only have a few simple rules for life that keep me rooted.

1. Don't be so serious. I am always amused when I see people running around texting, talking, twittering, and various other t's that apparently require their immediate and urgent attention. People take so many things seriously that really shouldn't be. I've never seen any proof that life is meant to be taken seriously, and until I do, I'm just going to lie back and chill.

2. Do the things you like. If you don't like what you're doing, ask yourself why you're doing it. If you don't know why you're doing it, then stop. If you don't like why you're doing it,  then you need to reevaluate your life decisions. If you're doing it in pursuit of a greater goal that you do like, then keep that goal in mind and focus on that.

3. Smile! It only takes a single candle to fight back the darkness.

4. Pick your relationships wisely. You don't want to be around people that are causing you unhappiness or holding you back. Special corollary for those special someones who have dumped or rejected you (since I have much experience with that): When you've been dumped, the best revenge is to live life to your fullest. Become the best person you could possibly be. Do the things you've only dreamed of doing. Make her regret it, not you.

5. Spoiler alert: You're going to die someday. Morbid? Yes, but until you realize that fact you risk wasting your life on things that you don't care about. Life is not a race! You don't want to get to the end, look back and say "Well, that was a waste of time." No one's keeping score, so lighten up and enjoy the ride. :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Perfection Trap

When you are depressed, it can be very easy to fall into a trap of obsessing over every little mistake you make. This can make it very difficult to be happy. This is not helped by marketing campaigns that teach us that we can only be happy if we have the perfect job, the perfect girlfriend, the perfect car. Of course, depressed or otherwise, no one is perfect and it can be a tremendous waste of time trying to be.

So how can you avoid feeling like you need to be perfect? There are some books out there that you can look at. One that helped me a lot is When Perfect Isn't Good Enough. It helped me realize that I was spending too much time wanting things to be better than they were, instead of accepting that sometimes things just aren't going to work out.

One thing that also helps is to keep things in perspective. Are people really going to notice a small stain on my pants? Is that extra point on homework really going to affect my grade that much? Sometimes you do need to fix things, but you may be surprised at how much better you feel when you stop sweating the small stuff. This doesn't mean you should drastically lower your standards. It just means that perfection is extremely difficult and you are probably better off letting it be. It's one thing to always want to go the extra mile, but it's quite another to beat yourself up over not being perfect.

Realize that perfection will not bring you happiness and then you will know that it's only by embracing our imperfections that we can be truly happy.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Do you ever feel like life is a hurricane, whipping you around to and fro like a rag doll? It's easy to feel like that when you suffer from depression since you are basically living on a roller coaster of emotion. When that occurs, I like to think about one of my favorite quotes:

The cyclone derives its powers from a calm center.  So does a person.  ~Norman Vincent Peale

I interpret this quote's meaning as no matter what happens to you, as long as you can remain calm on the inside you will be able to draw power from that to overcome your problems. Imagine your center as the eye of the storm. All of the events, thoughts, actions, and feelings that make up your life swirl around you. The storm of life affects everybody, but when you are the eye of the storm you are able to stand untouched. This touches on the idea of proactivity. A reactive person's strength fizzles quickly, but a proactive person can stay strong longer thanks to their ability to reduce the impact of life's events on them.

You do not need to have the strength of a hurricane to overcome your problems. You just need to realize that staying calm, no matter what problems you face, will allow you to successfully live through them.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Religion and Depression

Ah, religion. What a touchy subject in real life, and a difficult subject to tackle on the internet due to the abundance of trolls on both sides. I will try to approach this as objectively as possible, but be aware that my experiences with religion will be different than yours and will result in a different viewpoint.

I was born into a Catholic family in India. If you think that India is only home to Hindus and Muslims, think again. There are dozens of religions in India, and Christianity is starting to gain a foothold in certain areas such as the South. My parents were raised in a very strict environment which entailed 2 hours of prayer a night, weekly church attendance, and in general being good little Christians. They were not as strict with me or my brothers, probably because they felt a little encumbered by it when they were young and didn't want to force the same thing on us. This had the consequence of me being able to explore other faiths, with the eventual realization that I didn't really feel comfortable believing in any of them. I became an atheist.

So what does this have to do with depression? I believe that religion, and more specifically believing in a higher power, has a negative effect on treating depression. When you believe in a god that affects your life, it's more difficult to believe that you have control over your depression. Like they supposedly say in Alcoholics Anonymous, the first step is admitting you have a problem, and that you need to fix that problem yourself. Praying might make you feel better in the short term, but it will ultimately have no effect on the core reason you are depressed. Depression has physical causes that need to be addressed in a physical standpoint from doctors/psychiatrists. And what happens if you pray and nothing happens? You may be led to the horribly wrong conclusion that you deserve to be depressed.

I am not saying that religion causes depression, or that leaving religion will cure it. I was depressed when I was religious, and I was depressed for years after I became atheist. I am saying that not being religious forced me to take account for my own illness and eventually seek help on my own. That is something prayer never accomplished for me.

Is there anything good that religion can do? Yes. If religion motivates you to get out of bed; if religion motivates you to help others; if you are able to find friends and supporters through religion, then that's great. I won't deny that those will all help you handle depression. I will maintain that depression is caused by natural sources and does not need a supernatural solution.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


The benefits of exercise are wide and varied, but one of the most well-known is the fact that exercise improves mood. It's no surprise that doctors recommend exercise for people who are suffering from depression. As I've alluded to in my earlier articles though, it can be hard to get out of bed when feeling depressed, let alone exercise.

So what's a person to do? Here are a few activities that help me feel better:

Go for a walk. It can be surprising how much of a difference walking can make on your thoughts. The simple of act of moving can make you feel better and more confident about facing your problems.

Do yoga. Another activity that's highly recommended for mood, yoga can stimulate positive feelings and make you feel relaxed. If you're interested, I recommend checking out, which can give you an introduction to the world of yoga.

Play with a dog. Even if you're not an animal person (I'm not) there's something invigorating about pets that can help you feel better. Maybe it's their boundless energy, or their ability to always somehow be happy. There are programs such as Therapaws that train dogs to specifically help people suffering from mental illness.

There are a bunch of ways you can move around during your day that don't have to be dedicated to exercise. You can take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away from work, or do a jumping jack every time you have a depressive thought. Whatever you do, the point is to get moving!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Feel like a Failure?

I decided to something a little different today and make a rage comic about what I wanted to discuss. Comics are a very concise way of getting your point across, and hopefully more people will be able to appreciate the message.

It's easy to feel like you're a failure when you've been diagnosed with depression, but as long as you keep getting up you still have a chance to beat it. Don't ever give up. I know you can do it.