It is the integrated person who recognizes that meeting with true success requires that one's life be balanced, holistic, meaningful, and guided by the "spirit as the inner source of energy and spirituality as the outward expression of that force" (Dehler and Welsh, 2003, p.115) or "lived religion" (Gould 2005).
Keeping a Gratitude Journal can be a weapon against depression
By Laszlo Bagu, The Gazette
OpEd Contributor:Laszlo Bagu is a retired physician who lives in Côte-St-Luc.
year, I wrote a commentary on the Opinion page of The Gazette in which I
referred to depression as an illness like any other illness (June 28,
“I do not apologize for suffering from depression. Why should I?”). I
said I did not feel a need to apologize any more than a diabetic patient
would for having diabetes.
The positive responses I received were
instructive. It was not that I had offered a radical or new
perspective. Rather, I had simply publicly expressed a point of view
shared by many therapists, sufferers and their supporters.
up in a family with strong prejudices against any form of emotional
disturbance. I went through medical school with these very prejudices
still intact. I had to become very ill before I was finally willing to
open my eyes to the realities of my own condition. The line between
mulish perseverance that allows one to triumph over adversities, and
hard-headed obstinacy that fuels unrelenting denial of the obvious, can
be finer than a newborn’s hair.
Recent studies by epidemiologists
reveal alarming trends about the growing incidence of depression and
anxiety in all age groups in the industrialized world. Earlier
recognition and identification is partly responsible for these record
numbers. But it is also true that modern life has become more hectic and
stressful than ever before.
The favourable responses that I
received to my commentary last June got me thinking more about
depression and anxiety. They are complex problems that do not obviously
have their origins in either genetics or the environment — but rather in
a tangled, interactive mess of roots feeding from both heredity and
Everyone is unique, with a personal history that is
also one-of-a-kind; thus the specific details of an individual’s
pathology are as unique as his or her own face. The particular details
of suffering are unique, but the suffering is universal. This is what
makes depression and anxiety so difficult to treat. A one-size-fits-all
approach does not work; by definition, it cannot work.
I made an
inventory of all of the treatment modalities that therapists had tried
with me over the years. The results were varied: where other patients
did well on medication, I usually did not respond, or respond well. By
contrast, psychological counselling with an exceptional therapist helped
turn me around fairly quickly, whereas other patients with counselling
have made little or no progress.
Remembering this made me realize
that depression and anxiety have something to teach to all of us. In my
case, it taught me the value a simple but very effective practice, the
keeping of a Gratitude Journal. It is exactly what it sounds like. Every
day I made a list of things for which I was grateful in my life. These
things could be as trivial as a great cup of coffee with breakfast, or
as fundamental recognizing the gift of a loving and supportive spouse.
humans tend to dwell on the negative aspects of life: Just watch the TV
news, or read today’s newspaper headlines, as evidence of this. By
making daily entries in a Gratitude Journal, I was able to refocus my
mind on the good things in my life, while simultaneously draining away, a
little bit at a time, the disruptive power of hazy, vaguely defined
worries that kept bothering me. Gradually my overall perspective
Here’s the thing, though. Unlike
powerful prescription medication, a Gratitude Journal is not something
that should be for sole use of depressed and anxious patients. Anyone
can start one.
Fed up? Overwhelmed? Frustrated?
Do something about it: write now!