health

Albert Einstein said there was one simple question you need to ask yourself to lead a happy life.

Anyone who has experienced depression knows the feeling of absolute hopelessness that words can never adequately convey.

The world, at that moment, is not a good place.

I remember lying in bed and playing with all the possible tragedies that could be lurking just around the corner. Tomorrow, my parents could die. I might never land a job I enjoy. My friends could all find me a nuisance, and there’s no certainty that I will ever find someone who loves me.

The world owed me nothing, and it did unfair, cruel things to good people. I saw it every day.

When I first went to a psychologist, I looked at her and thought, “There’s an element of delusion to happiness.”

She could not convince me that bad things were not going to happen.

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In my mind, I was being a realist. Everyone else was a fantasist. A fool.

This week, I came across a quote by Albert Einstein, who so perfectly encapsulated the difference between a depressed mind and a ‘healthy’ mind.

To be clear, no 19-word quote will ‘cure’ depression. It certainly didn’t for me. But Einstein said there is one decision we make every day that determines whether or not we live a happy life.

“The most important decision we make,” Einstein said, “is whether we believe we live in a friendly or a hostile universe.”

When we are depressed, the universe is random and thus often belligerent. It’s unsympathetic. It’s cruel. And we are mere victims to it.

There are some people who go their whole lives holding this core belief, and they might not even be aware of it. They live as though they are victims to their circumstances. The world, to them, desperately wants to hurt them.

The world can seem belligerent and unsympathetic. Image via istock.
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But that philosophy will never, ever serve us well.

If we decide every morning that the universe is a friendly place, our energy, and our engagement with that universe completely changes.

We are more patient. More grateful. More understanding.

I've always thought that the trap depression sets, is that the energy you exude is the energy you attract. Negative, cold, combative energy will not offer you the life you desire, and thus the cycle seems never ending. You hate your life, and thus your life becomes something you hate.

Again, if you or a loved one are in the throws of depression, I am not suggesting that an Einstein quote is the solution.

But it is a start.

We can try to make a decision every morning, to approach our universe as though it is friendly and kind. For some of us, it could make a world of difference.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner or in Australia, contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue 1300 22 4636.