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The Only Time That Change Doesn’t Make You Better

The Only Time That Change Doesn’t Make You Better

Tom’s always liked cooking, and his friends have always backed him up on how good he is — especially some of his homemade pizzas. So he pulled together a few pieces and decided to open a pizza place.

    The first year of business was good. Lots of customers went to his restaurant to try his pizzas.

      But after a year, a taco place opened up nearby and was becoming popular. Their lines seemed longer and their business seemed more robust.

        As this was all happening, Tom was scrolling through Facebook one day. He saw that one of his old friends, who currently works in banking services, just bought himself a new car.

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          Doubt was creeping in.

          “Why do I have to be so persistent in this business?”

          “Why can’t this be easier?”

          We all do this to some extent: we struggle, we compare to others, and we think about whether we should give up.

          Chasing the Perfect Treasure Chest

          The perfect treasure chest is a concept many human beings chase. What it means is this: when we don’t have something, we imagine this concept of a perfect treasure chest others may have. The chest is beautiful, ornate, and has all the “right” things inside of it.

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            We think about our own treasure chest and it seems ugly, faded, and containing metals and stuff with no value.

              We are comparing but doing it wrong.

              The problem is this: a lot of things we want or see others having (rewards, nice cars, big houses, etc.) can be attained by us too at some point. But once they’re attained, the fantasy associated with them is gone. Once the fantasy is gone, it’s easier to see downsides. This is why many people don’t feel satisfied even when they accrue lots of possessions.

              Now let’s turn back to Tom. Tom could get that luxury car.

                But he would need to deal with a lot of uncomfortable clients to promote his financial plans to satisfy their clients needs, and do a lot of networking to connect with different business men. It would be a lot of tough work too behind that luxurious car.

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                  Eventually he’ll see the downsides of this car. Once that happens, what will he want? The next perfect treasure chest.

                    The cycle just keeps going. ON and on. You’ll never find that perfect treasure chest.

                    What can you do, though?

                    Embrace the Flawed Chest

                    Reward is important, but you need to understand the downsides of opportunities too. In reality, every chest contains something you don’t want. Maybe half of them are gold and jewels, and the other half of them are crappy metals.

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                      Look inside any theoretical treasure chest. Some may have more “gold,” others more “diamonds,” and most might have some degree of rusted, crappy metals. The gold is great and seems valuable (huge house, flashy car). But do you really need the “gold” in this perfect treasure chest? Potentially not.

                        The truly important aspect is looking at the crappy old metals and thinking, “How could these become gold in my eyes?” In other words, what is needed to turn them into new opportunities? How can the downsides become the next upsides?

                        There are two approaches: you can either ditch the old treasure chest in pursuit of the new perfect chest, but that will become a lifelong circular struggle with no potential resolution.

                        Or you can figure out what elements of the old chest can be turned into new opportunities, and you might get closer to personal fulfillment.

                          The Perfect Chest Never Exists, Stop the Endless Chase

                          Consistently chasing the next beautiful, grandiose thing will not bring you closer to fulfillment. Think more on what you really want, not the flashy elements of the next perfect treasure chest.

                          You have the ability to make the right choice here. Don’t quit easily. If you choose to pursue a treasure chest, remember that you can learn a lot more from the old, ugly metals than the flashy gold you smile at. The ugly metals are the opportunities you need to grow.

                          Read more in my other article how to stay motivated all the time: You Can Never Taste the True Value If You Give up Too Early

                          More by this author

                          Leon Ho

                          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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                          Last Updated on May 16, 2019

                          Can You Stop Depression from Damaging Your Brain?

                          Can You Stop Depression from Damaging Your Brain?

                          Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in America, according to the latest mental health statistics.[1] Approximately 17.3 million adults have had at least one major depressive episode.

                          In this article, we will take a deep look into depression, what a depression brain is like, and how to prevent the damage from depression.

                          What is Depression?

                          In order to tap into treatment options for depression, we must first examine what defines this disorder.

                          Apart from differing scientific and medical jargon, depression – also known as Major Depressive Disorder – is best categorized as a serious mood disorder.

                          While it is common, it is anything but innocent. The symptoms of depression have serious effects on daily living, and leave the afflicted person with an inability to carry out normal tasks, such as working, interacting with friends and family, and sleeping.

                          Depression itself is an umbrella term for a list of specific types of depression, such as Postpartum Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (which leads into serious symptoms of depression), Bipolar Disorder, and Psychotic Depression (which is depression with symptoms of psychosis), just to name a few.[2]

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                          While everyone experiences moments of depression in their life, being clinically diagnosed with depression is usually done with the aid of medical help. This diagnosis typically relies on a baseline of depression symptoms that have been present for at least two weeks.

                          Symptoms of Depression

                          Because depression is categorized as a serious mood disorder, most symptoms will begin with a person’s behavior. A person may feel persistent sadness that simply won’t go away, or they may experience a loss of interest in activities that they once enjoyed, like gardening, traveling, or working out.

                          Other symptoms, although not a complete list, may persist:

                          • Feelings of emptiness or hopelessness
                          • Anxiety
                          • Angry outbursts, followed by a complete mood change (from happy to sad in very quick shifts)
                          • Struggles with insomnia or significant changes in sleep schedule
                          • Inability and lack of desire to get out of bed in the morning
                          • Significant decrease in personal hygiene, nutrition, and maintenance of their home or space
                          • Decreased interactions with friends, family, or colleagues
                          • Lack of energy and physical weakness, apathy, or pains and aches
                          • Trouble concentrating on specific tasks or making decisions
                          • Frequent thoughts about death, or even suicidal plans, thoughts, or attempts
                          • Back pain and headaches

                          While this list is not complete or exhaustive to a person’s struggle with depression, it does provide a general picture of some of the common symptoms.[3])

                          Causes of Depression

                          Mental health disorders still very much pose a mystery to medical professionals and science, in general. While depression is treated in a variety of ways (medicine, therapy, alternative healing, etc.), professionals are still learning more about this disorder and how it affects people of different genders, ages, and backgrounds.

                          However, a variety of factors are known to be possible contributors to depression, such as:

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                          • Hormones – in cases of giving birth or going through menopause, women’s hormones quickly change, which can trigger depression or similar symptoms
                          • Genes – while not everyone gets depression from inherited traits, it is a factor, and research has seen a correlation between depression in families that is carried through generations
                          • Brain chemistry – one of the key factors in understanding cause of depression is brain chemistry, specifically neurotransmitters that work with the neuro-circuits in the brain to balance mood stability. If these neurotransmitters are not working properly, it could lead to depression or similar symptoms

                          We already mentioned brain chemistry, and how it plays an integral part in understanding how your brain works in relation to mood stability. Neurotransmitters are your body’s chemical messengers. They transmit these messages between neurons for a plethora of reasons – cognitive function, organ function, dopamine release, etc.[4]

                          In terms of relating this to depression, however, those transmitters also regulate mood stability, and if they’re not relaying messages correctly or connecting to the brain circuitry in normal, functioning ways, we see a correlation between that “misfiring” and mental illness.

                          To paint a picture, imagine your brain split in half, the two lobes or hemispheres perfectly separated from each other.

                          Now, imagine the mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters like tiny little ping-pong balls that bounce from one hemisphere of the brain to the other, relaying messages that connect the brain as a whole. This is what we normally see in a healthy functioning brain.

                          However, if there is a change in this chemistry, and the ping-pong balls are not crossing and relaying as they should, that change creates a shift in your brain circuitry that may cause depression or similar symptoms.

                          Because our brain is an extremely complex and intricate organ which scientists are still studying and learning about, it wouldn’t be complete to say that only chemical imbalances cause depression.

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                          In fact, recent Harvard research suggests that a slew of factors are involved in creating a correlation between depression and your brain function. These are inclusive of the neurotransmitters we described above, but they also include your way of life, medication, stress levels, and even genetic contributions or ways in which you were brought up.[5]

                          Because depression is a mood disorder, we have to look at our behavior, and how it is influenced by our brain chemistry.

                          Behavior is shaped by our temperament, and much of that comes from our genetics. We are predisposed to act in certain social situations in ways that tie us to our family chain.

                          How we react to life circumstances or other people is very much a reflection of what we picked up from our parents, guardians, friends, or social upbringing. From this, we may make different choices in life, for better or worse, depending on these genetics.

                          Similarly, our view of the world and our relation to it also have a hand in how depression may form. We create our world view early on in life, and while it is influenced by our family and life events, it’s also very much our own.

                          If you’ve experienced loss or disappointment, you’re likely to fall back on your world view to cope with it and allow it to protect you. As an example, you may close yourself off from new relationships because you’ve endured heartbreak and don’t believe that you’re worthy of real love; or, you come from an upbringing that wasn’t emotionally available, so you don’t create habit patterns or behaviors that show you how to handle emotion in a healthy way.

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                          All of these scenarios create behavior. In turn, that behavior creates habit patterns, that in turn, create your daily life and your interaction with it.

                          While chemical imbalances can have a direct role in manifesting depressive episodes, we have to be aware that our own, inherent behavioral traits are just as powerful contributors.

                          Medications to re-balance any chemical disruptions in the brain are a proactive tool against depression. These can be explained and provided to you by a medical health professional.

                          When it comes to our behavior, however, and how we deal with stress, trauma, loss, medical problems, and the like – all of which are triggers for depression – we can implement new habits[6] that can decrease any damage to our state of body and mind, such as:

                          • Meditation
                          • Deep breathing
                          • Yoga or any body-conscious movement or workout
                          • Journaling about life events or problems we encounter on a daily basis
                          • Therapy or group-sharing
                          • Acupuncture, Reiki, or any alternative-healing modality
                          • Diet and nutrition rich in foods that cleanse and empower (rather than numb and overpack the gut)
                          • Hiking, running, biking, or any cardio-increasing activity
                          • Spending time with others who support you

                          These are habits and tools that you can implement on your own, as well as with a professional. Remember to always consult with your doctor before starting any new regiment.

                          The Bottom Line

                          Depression is a disorder that affects our mood. While research has uncovered that depression may be linked to chemical imbalances in the brain, it also suggests that our behavior and inherent genetic traits are strongly connected to how depression manifests.

                          How you deal with the many ups and downs of daily life are strong indicators of where you may want to make changes, whether medicinal or alternative, to decrease your chances of depression and its damage, and embrace a life of health and well-being.

                          Featured photo credit: AJ Garcia via unsplash.com

                          Reference

                          [1] National Institute of Mental Health: Major Depression
                          [2] National Institute of Mental Health: Depression
                          [3] Mayo Clinic: Depression (Major Depressive Disorder
                          [4] Queensland Brain Institute: What are Neurotransmitters
                          [5] Harvard Health: What Causes Depression?
                          [6] Help Guide: Coping with Depression

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