When I was in high school, I hated homework. I loved procrastinating. Nothing felt better than binge watching a series, when I was writing an exam the next day.
Along with procrastinating, I enjoyed feeling depressed. It was part of my identity. I was a misunderstood teenager, dealing with emotions that nobody could understand.
When I left high school and started university, my habits continued. I procrastinated. To no surprise, my identity stayed the same. I was depressed, most days. I took to smoking weed to numb the numbness I felt. But instead, I only became number.
It wasn’t until I took responsibility for my actions that things started to improve.
After a year of doing nothing, I decided to dedicate myself to my studies. I did my homework. I studied for my tests and I finished my assignments on time. My school marks reflected my new level of dedication. And my identity changed.
I stopped being depressed. I walked straight, with my head held high. I stopped smoking weed. And when I did, I enjoyed the fuck out of it.
On some days, I woke up sad. Some days, I woke up angry. However, these emotions were fleeting. Depression was no longer my baseline state. And at the end of every day, I went to sleep happy, looking forward for the day that lay ahead.
According to research, our serotonin levels match our socio-economic status. The higher you are, the more serotonin your body releases. Unfortunately, the lower you are, the less serotonin your body releases.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, responsible for regulating our moods. People who suffer from depression, tend to have less serotonin in their brains than those who don’t.
As a result, people with low serotonin have a hard time regulating their moods. They experience mood swings and swing violently from one mood to the next. They may experience depression as a baseline state of their being.
Unfortunately, a lot of doctors confuse this correlation with causation. They give people medicine that increase their serotonin levels, in hopes of treating them.
However, this is a short term solution. Its the same thing I did when I was depressed, and I smoked weed to ‘fix’ my problems. Drugs don’t help, they mask. And when the drugs run out, the depression returns.
So here’s three ways to improve your serotonin.
I’m not an expert. I’m just a human being, sharing my experiences.
1. Pick A Struggle
Ironically, telling someone who’s depressed, to be happier, is counter-productive. Whenever we chase happiness, we become more measurable.
Think of a drug addict. They spend their lives taking drugs that make them ‘happy’. But if you talk to one long enough, you’ll realize their lives are empty, sad and meaningless.
Picking a struggle has the opposite effect.
When you pick a struggle, life beats you down so hard, that you have no time to beat yourself up. You externalize your problems. You focus on something out there, instead of what’s missing in here. And since perception is reality, the less you think about yourself, the less power your emotions have over you.
2. Find Meaning
Technically, this should be number one. Before you pick a struggle, make sure its meaningful. If its not, you’ll quit it like every new years resolution you ever made. A simple way to determine what’s meaningful, is to look at your hobbies. Hobbies are activities we do for activities sake.
These activities give our soul something we can’t get anywhere else. And they’re good place to start, if you looking to give your life some meaning. Ask yourself why you do these activities. And when you get the answers, ask yourself ‘why’ again.
Eventually, you’ll get to an answer that can’t go any deeper. And in that answer, you’ll find meaning.
3. Be disciplined
Once you found your struggle, dedicate yourself to it.
Imagine you’re Neo in The Matrix. Preparing for the fight of your life. You’re the One. And you’re the only One who can save yourself.
Discipline teaches us will. Will, teaches us self-control. The mind is a part of us but its not who we are. We are a combination of mind and body. Just like how we train our bodies, we can train our minds. We can train our minds to be gentler and more supportive.
And even if we believe we cant, we can train ourselves to ignore it.
Most people wake up in the morning for work, their bodies screaming for another hour of sleep. They ignore it and walk into the shower.
We can do the same to our mind. No matter how negative it is. No matter how much hate it spews in our direction. We can say “Fuck You” and continue with our day. That, is the pleasure of discipline. That, is freedom.
And ultimately, that’s, how you become happier.