I live in Los Angeles. As a result, I have seen a lot of people wearing purple and gold lately (and I’m not just talking about in WeHo). It seems that this city of angels have all decided to jump on the bandwagon known as Laker fever..
As I was driving down Wilshire, I saw two grown men, wearing Lakers’ jerseys get honked at by a passing car, streaming two Laker flag pennants out the window. The camaraderie was a welcome feeling to the normal syrupy-sweet, yet superficial exchanges in our sun soaked city (hows that for alliteration Mrs. Walker?).
My friend, a staunch Celtics supporter, said he missed the feeling he used to get in Boston when the whole town would shut down during a game. Everyone connected together, routing for their team. In addition to that, I began to watch the intense fervor with which soccer fans from around the world are now routing their team to victory.
But is it just about wanting a bunch of people in similar colored shirts put the ball in the hole? or does it go beyond that? is it something deeper? Is it more about the sense of connection we feel to others when cheering our team on to victory? Would everyone enjoy sporting events as much, if we had to watch them in a vacuum, without the possibility of talking about it afterwards?
There are numerous spiritual texts, that in one way or another, posit that we all began as one. That cosmically, universally, spiritually- we are all connected, and by doing things in which we re-connect to our point of origin (each other), we move closer towards happiness and fulfillment.
Think about a day when you spent the entirety of it behind your computer, or in your house, without interacting with anyone. Then think about a time when you maybe didn’t feel like it at first, but were forced to attend a social engagement where you were busy interacting with others, talking, joking, and connecting. I’m willing to wager that you recall the latter event as being more enjoyable.
Research demonstrates that the top 10% of those that are happiest spend the majority of their time engaging in meaningful activities with others. Conversely, those that are most depressed, tend to spend a majority of their time engaging in isolative behaviors.
Often times, when one is depressed, the circuitry of the brain tells them “its ok- just keep doing this, just stay by yourself, and you’ll feel better.” However, we’ve all heard the adage- “if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
The aspect of depression that makes it different from any other physiological pathology, is that we must engage in the activities that are counter-intuitive to be rid of it. For instance, if we had a stomach virus, our intuition to lay low and drink lots of fluids is probably spot on. However, this is not the case with depression. How do we expect a depressed mind to know what a happy person needs?
So today, think about what you can do to connect to your point of origin. What might you be able to do to regain that sense of connectedness to others? Could you meditate on loving kindness and compassion to someone that is going through pain? Could you volunteer your time to a friend that needs it? Could you plan a dinner party for your friends this weekend? Could you invite your neighbor over for a cup of coffee?
“Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of others…for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.”
Dr. Colleen Long is the author of “Happiness in B.A.L.A.N.C.E,” and practices in the Los Angeles area under the supervision of Dr. Richard Oelberger (PSY22186) . Dr. Long works mainly from a positive psychology framework as it applies to addiction, depression, relationships, body image and weight loss. Her website can be found at www.DrColleenLong.com. All public speaking/media event requests handled through FreudTV (info@FreudTV.com).