Humanist Corner January 2020

HUMANIST CORNER January 2020 ( On Depression)
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” Robert Frost
“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” Allen Saunders
It was difficult coming up with something worthy of kicking off a new year and decade. That is until our social-working, youngest daughter Janet, solved the problem for me. She passed along a video talk by psychologist Michael Yapco presented to an Australian audience on the topic of depression. Who would be more entitled to this contagious malady than the Aussies at this point in time?
The lecture can be found at for those of us who favor the visual. My own life’s been really linear in style so I’ve tried to summarize some of his sensible advice here. They’re found principally in the last ten minutes of the hour-long video. His points are very well made and in my other lifetime as a counselor I often shared similar thoughts on a daily basis. Of course, people tend to say “Well that’s just the way I am.” Well as Albert Ellis, my own favorite psychologist, might ask rhetorically “And how’s that working for you?” Dr Yapco emphasizes studies attributing our behaviors to be only .04% inherited. So it’s neither in the stars, nor our genes! Depression is common to all of us in varying degrees, and who wouldn’t agree we’re passing through a pretty depressing chapter in the human story?
So let’s start with a few “DO’s” in challenging our depressive thoughts:-
Challenge yourself. “How do I know?”
Strive to exercise regularly.
Do fun things, do them often.
Get and stay connected to others.
Learn to relax. (Meditate, find quiet places, whatever works)
Be goal oriented in important areas.
Prioritize and problem solve.
Get support. DON’T WAIT. (Professional, priest, Uncle Ted)
Okay, now for some “DON’TS.”
Don’t dwell on the past.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
Don’t catastrophize, understand probability.
Don’t leave important things unsaid, unresolved.
Don’t analyze too deeply. Move on.
Don’t ignore your needs.
Self-care is not the same as selfish.
Don’t give up or be passive.
Don’t isolate. Find good people to be with.
Don’t leave time unstructured.
Another point he made in passing. SCREENS! For old geezers like me it’s a blessing to have the world literally at one’s fingertips with a gazillion entertainment channels. Once I’d have been consigned to a good view of the traffic with a shawl on my lap. BUT in Dr. Yapco’s opinion these little screens too often rule our lives, I agree. Minimize their hold on life whenever you can, especially at bedtime, on vacation or on occasions requiring utmost focus and attention. The world’s most complex and efficient machine’s still located right behind your nose!
Let me wrap up with that little bit of biology, and wish you the best of the coming year, and all those that follow…