How to heal

The longer we live, the more life teaches us. One of the greatest lessons I have learned is how to heal oneself when feeling depressed. I don’t know when I first realized this, but I have tried to practice it and have witnessed it in others countless times since it first occurred to me. The process should be obvious to us, but we all know those times when we just can’t see any path out of our funk. Here’s how it works:

Find someone who needs help, someone traveling a rougher patch than you are just now. Find a way to lend a hand. Plunge into helping that person, focus on that, and stay with it until you see progress and hope in that person. This works every time. I have used it repeatedly in my own experience and witnessed it in others. I have never seen it fail. Perhaps this outreach effort should come easily, but we know that sometimes we find it more comfortable to concentrate on our own troubles. But take that step. Do it. Find someone to help, and start helping, now.

Your heart, the way you feel every morning when you arise and at night when you lay your head down to sleep, will show you that you’re healing yourself.

Elizabeth Kübler Ross, Swiss-American psychiatrist, in her groundbreaking book “On Death and Dying,” presented her theory on the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Few address the process of personal healing more eloquently than she does in this statement:

“The most beautiful people I have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep, loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

(No Today’s word this time.)

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