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what i read when i'm sad

September 19, 20203 min read

What follows are my favorite resources to turn to when I’m feeling depressed. They help me reframe my perspective and interrupt negative thought patterns.

Louis CK Hates Cell Phones

When I first notice I’m feeling depressed, I turn on this skit. It reminds me that feeling depressed is a normal and ubiquitous human emotion, and helps me laugh at myself again.

The Joy of Sadness by Steve Pavlina

Negative emotions, like all emotions, provide us useful data. You can think of your emotions like video game stats. When your health bar is low, you need rest. When your neopet’s hunger level is “starving”, they need food. Similarly, when you’re grumpy, you might need to take a nap. When you’re angry, you might need to establish better boundaries with the people around you.

I read this article to help me re-frame negative feelings as data about an underlying need. What are my feelings telling me?

Another helpful re-frame from the article is: what if these “bad” feelings are actually enjoyable? You’ve probably enjoyed feeling sad when you were watching a sad movie or listening to a sad song. But other times you’re sad and you decide to dislike the sadness. You can choose not to dislike it. You can reframe sadness into something more romantic. Steve calls it “beautiful melancholy.”

Overcoming Depression by Steve Pavlina

Depression is a self-reinforcing spiral. Your depression wants you to continue thinking depressing thoughts. Your depression might say, “keep thinking about why you feel bad, so that you find the root cause and feel better”. That’s a lie. You should spend a short amount of time trying to identify and resolve your underlying unmet need, but if that doesn’t work, don’t keep ruminating.

Instead, Steve advocates that you push away depressing thoughts and think only happy thoughts. If you feel you have nothing to be happy about, then create an imaginary happy life. His point is that we’re most effective when we’re happy, so it’s better to solve for happiness first, and then you’ll find the energy to solve any of the underlying issues that might have caused your unhappiness.

Your Own Writing

Sometimes if I’m feeling low I like to re-read my old journals. I start by re-reading entries from previous times in my life when I felt sad. There’s something comforting about knowing I’ve been through this before; A reminder that this too shall pass. I also have a lot of empathy for former Priyas, and imagine that one day a future Priya will have empathy for current Priya.

Other Resources I Recommend:

How Not To Be Sad by Laura Deming

Mood Control by Andrew Roberts