possibility: more powerful than depressionWhen you are depressed, your mind sees no possibilities. You feel stuck, with no change in sight.

Depression is brilliant. It is an amazing example of “we are what we think.”

When we are depressed, our thoughts consist of things like “nothing will help,” “it’s useless,” and “I can’t do it.” These thoughts get even stronger when well-meaning people give suggestions on how to stop being depressed. Of course, these ever-so-helpful suggestions come right after we have gone on and on about how hard our life is. Right?

Of course, I have a suggestion. Let me rephrase: Let’s look at another possibility.

Depression is one-track thinking, and that track is “nothing will make any difference to my life.” Black and white thinking is part of the misery — and the thoughts are always black. Depression hates options.

Thoughts are patterns of neural pathways. When we are depressed, our neural pathways are constricted to repetitive, limiting thoughts. Change your thoughts and you change your neural pathways. Change your neural pathways and you change your depression.

Here is an exercise to do just that. At least five times a day, think of three possibilities for how something, anything, might happen.

For instance, to get out of bed you could get out your normal side, scoot over to the other side to get out, or you can do a cartwheel off the bed.

Clearly, all the possibilities don’t have to be boring, or even likely. The point is, stretch your thoughts, your neural pathways. Don’t go on to assess the feasibility, just think of the possibilities. If you practice this, after a couple of days your mind automatically will start to consider other options.

I started this practice a couple of weeks ago. Last weekend, I was sitting at my desk answering emails. My lamp, for the zillionth time, fell off my desk. It has been doing this for years. It is top-heavy, with three little wire legs, and it tips easily. As I was once again picking up this endlessly annoying lamp, I was struck with the thought “you could get a new lamp.” Brilliant! I could just buy a new lamp!

I realize some of you are thinking “Really? Jane thinks this is brilliant?” We all have our blind spots; getting rid of something that still works is one of mine.

The fact that possibilities exist is antithetical to depression. If you think non-depression-sanctioned thoughts, you give yourself more perceived options. As you have more perceived options, depression has less power to limit your thoughts. The less limited your thoughts, the less depressed you become.

Ergo, possibility is more powerful than depression.

Even if you aren’t depressed, try the three possibilities exercise. It will increase your creativity (at least in thoughts), I promise.