Expression vs. Depression

I once heard Dr Wayne Dyer say a very interesting definition of depression. The beautiful thing about this definition is that it reveals both the cause of depression and the possible cure for it. He simply put it this way: depression is the opposite of expression.

Expression here refers to expressing one’s self. Expression has various forms and tools. We express ourselves in words and in actions. Expression requires a clear understanding of ourselves, and a course of actions and a life style based on that understanding.

I know first hand, for one example, how depressing it is to do work that’s not expressive of who we are, our natural talents and our interests. Many people find themselves in this situation, mainly because sustaining life requires things that only money can buy, ranging from the very basic (food, shelter) to the less basic (paying your bills!).

Expression requires freedom. Financial freedom and freedom from other obstacles to expressing ourselves. That’s why we can also say that lack of freedom surely leads to depression. We don’t like feeling forced to do anything. If we feel unfree in too many areas of our life, we will inevitably be depressed.

A worthy pursuit is therefore to free ourselves, to try and create ways for us to do things we really believe in. When looking for a job, income shouldn’t be where we look first, but more important is how expressive the job is of our interests.

We also need to simplify our life, to lessen the clutter and the things that we don’t really need, which will free space, time and resources for the things that really express who we are. We’re not this extra shirt, this new car, that new piece of furniture that we want to add to our superficial experience of life. Those things can only limit our freedom, add financial burdens that won’t help liberate us or allow us to connect to our true purpose.

The Prophet Muhammad once said something that goes like this: everyone will find it easy to do what he was created for. We find resistance when we do things we don’t like. This resistance is the same depression that’s opposite of expression. When we do things we like, they happen easily. Time goes by light , and we have delight! It’s an indication that this is what we were “created for”. It’s in harmony with our purpose.

This is the path to happiness: make it a priority in choosing your life to express yourself, to do what you like and what interests you, what feels so easy that you’ll know it’s something you were created to do!

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