(February 9, 2007)

At Living Room today we had some interesting discussion. One thing that had the most impact on me was when someone said how she feels best during depression when she can get away from thinking about herself. When she tries to reach out and show an interest in other people’s lives, it’s easier to forget her own misery. There is something powerful in the act of giving – and that does not only mean giving things, but giving our attention to other people and their stories.

When we’re depressed it’s natural to be self-consumed with the misery we feel. In fact people who suffer from almost any illness are in danger of becoming self-absorbed. It’s natural.

Interestingly, it’s not only a depressed mood that will make us self-absorbed. The same holds true for high moods. When I’m high and with friends, I’ll talk their heads off about all the “wonderful” projects I’m engaged in. I totally forget that they have lives too. I forget to ask how they are doing. I’m so full of myself.

But, when I consciously try, and succeed, asking my friends about themselves. When I ask how they’re feeling and what they’re doing, something happens that makes me feel better about myself. I’ve come to appreciate having people trust me enough to tell me their troubles. I like the sense of connection it gives us. It feels good to forget about myself.

It’s hard, but I must try constantly, to be more other-centered. The payoff is huge. I feel stronger when I reach out. I feel more well. I don’t feel so much a consumer or victim. I’m then a contributor and supporter.