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Practice empathy. As we've seen, it's important to think of those who have offended you as ordinary human beings, not monsters. Every human act--even a horrific one--springs from a person's own toxic mix of anger, guilt, fear, and woundedness. We all act as we do because on some level we feel that we must, given our life circumstances. While this is not a rationale for excusing others' bad behavior, it is an exercise in learning to walk in their shoes, see through their eyes, and hopefully find a reason for compassion. From there, it's much easier to contemplate forgiving them and moving on. Employ gratitude. There are few things more powerful than listing all the things you are grateful for in your life. Write them down, say them out loud, and shout them if you can. Do this sincerely and consistently, and you'll soon realize your anger and pain at the unforgiven offense is not so hot or heavy as it was. That's because it's physically impossible to think two thoughts at once. You can't be grateful and harbor fantasies of revenge at the same time. When you choose to concentrate on the blessings you do have, what you've lost through someone else's behavior begins to look less scary and easier to simply let go of. Dwell in the present. The truth is, any offense you have not yet forgiven exists only in the past--which is to say, only in your mind. The thief is not continuously breaking into your house; the assailant stopped harming you long ago, and your friend's betrayal happened only once. To stop reliving such events over and over, learn the art of mindfulness, of centering your thoughts in the safety of here and now. Many techniques exist for doing this. Find one that works for you and give it a try. Ask God for help.

Forgiveness does not come naturally to us in the wake of a painful trauma or offense. We must learn how to do it. We must learn how to truly mean it. Fortunately, the Great Teacher, our gracious heavenly Father, is ready to show us the way--when we ask. Now, faith comes in many forms, and God can be found in many places. What follows is the road map and key landmarks I've drawn from my own Christian journey. My goal is not to impose my beliefs on you. Rather, these are practices drawn from my experience of faith that have proved to be effective spiritual tools for me and those we serve at The Center, and they will help you to care for your soul as you seek to heal depression for life. Ask yourself what you already excel at. There should be something that you do better than the people you know or that you have always been very good at. Pinpoint that special activity or skillset and find ways to increase it. If you're a good runner, get out there and play a sport with a lot of running like Soccer or Basketball - you'll have something more interesting to talk about with anyone who plays those sports and other athletes in general. If you love to sing, head over to your local bar on karaoke night and sing your heart out! If you love to paint, write or draw, designate one day of the week to devote to your hobby. The more you focus on things you love, the more love you can bring into your life, simply because you're auto-magnetizing people to you. The truth is, people are drawn to others who are energized, passionate and happy. The more you focus on what you love to do, the greater you'll be able to attract others to you. When you meet someone, it's easy to be excited about what you can now do, but introducing it should be done in a way that draws them into conversation - not through bragging. People love to share what they think and help you succeed in your endeavours. Don't cut them off when they try to add to the conversation.

Just because you develop a skillset doesn't mean you're an expert who can walk around telling people what to believe or think about it. There are so many different types of skills and personal development opportunities out there. Just to give you an idea of how interesting of a person you can become, here are a few of my favourites: Learning a language is one of the most effective ways to meet new people. Not only do you open yourself up to an entire world of individuals who don't speak your native tongue, you will meet other people trying to learn whatever language you're interested in. Plus, it is a nice addition to your resume. Physical activity is good for more than just skill development. It keeps you active, helps you feel good about yourself, and lets you show off how skilled you can be with a synthetic ball (or how funny you can be when you fall on your butt). Sports are one of the greatest ways to meet people, even if you're trying to find a date, and the skills you develop can be applied to pretty much anything else you enjoy. Reading is not a good way to meet people directly, but it does build up a nice knowledge base that can be tapped in conversation. If you've ever been trapped in a dull, dragging conversation with someone who doesn't know the difference between the President of France and George Clooney, you know that having at least a basic pool of knowledge will make you infinitely more interesting to people you've just met. Writing is a fantastic way to grow your skills. While I don't usually recommend going around showing off your poetry knowledge (quoting poetry to people repeatedly will usually come across as condescending at best), simply being agile with the pen makes you more effective in communicating ideas to other people - in email, in conversation or over the phone. These two decision scenarios offer the same choices, but we react very differently. Why? The "frame" of the problem has changed. In the first case, we focus on saving lives and are in a gain frame, while in the second scenario we focus on losing lives and are in a loss frame. In essence, our decisions can change if we frame the problem as a gain or a loss. Viewing the proverbial glass as half full or half empty really does affect our judgments! This framing effect has been found in a variety of personal and professional decision contexts. For example, seventy-one experienced managers responded to a similar decision in a business context.

In this case, the managers would either lose $400,000 or save $200,000 if they chose the first alternative. Only 25 percent of the managers chose that alternative when it was framed as losing $400,000, but 63 percent chose it when framed as saving $200,000.2 Framing can even affect life and death decisions. One study asked 1,153 patients, doctors, and graduate students if they would choose radiation therapy or surgery for lung cancer. Some saw the decision framed in terms of living, while others in terms of dying. For example, about half were told that, with surgery, there was a 68 percent chance of living for more than one year. The other half was told that, with surgery, there was a 32 percent chance of dying by year's end. Surgery was selected 75 percent of the time in the survival frame and 58 percent in the mortality frame.3 Even for decisions as important as surgery, many people would make a different choice depending upon the language of the frame. You can imagine the power that some people have to manipulate public opinion just because they know how to ask a question to get their desired response. We Hate to Lose! Imagine that you just lost $1,000. How would you feel? Now imagine that you just won $1,000. Most of us would love to win $1,000, but would have a stronger reaction to losing $1,000. A loss of $1,000 is felt more than a gain of $1,000. This is a phenomenon that psychologists call loss aversion--losses loom larger than gains for most of us. In essence, we hate to lose! Our loss aversion is one reason we're willing to take more risks in loss contexts--we just don't want to accept a sure loss. This desire to avoid losses leads to a number of faulty decisions. For example, investors tend to sell winning investments quickly and hold on to losing investments. Studies show that we're more likely to sell stocks that rise in price rather than those that fall.

This is often a bad decision. In fact, one study found that the stocks investors sold outperformed the stocks held by about 3.4 percent over the subsequent twelve months.4 Why do we do it? We want to lock in a sure gain, and we don't want to accept a sure loss. As a result, we sell stocks that go up in price to realize the gain, and hold stocks that drop, hoping they'll recover. Unfortunately, some of those stocks continue to drop and we lose more money than if we had just cut our losses. In our attempt to avoid the pain of a loss, we hold on to losers much too long, causing us greater pain down the road. Loss aversion also explains an interesting phenomenon known as the endowment effect. Consider the following decision. A distraction has pulled you away from the breath, and you suddenly realize that you've been daydreaming. The trick is to pull all the way out of whatever has captured you, to break its hold on you completely so you can go back to the breath with full attention. You do this by gauging the length of time that you were distracted. This is not a precise calculation. You don't need a precise figure, just a rough estimate. You can measure it in minutes, or by significant thoughts. Just say to yourself, "Okay, I have been distracted for about two minutes," or "since the dog started barking," or "since I started thinking about money." When you first start practicing this technique, you will do it by talking to yourself. Once the habit is well established, you can drop that, and the action becomes wordless and very quick. The whole idea, remember, is to pull out of the distraction and get back to the breath. You pull out of the thought by making it the object of inspection just long enough to glean from it a rough approximation of its duration. The interval itself is not important. Once you are free of the distraction, drop the whole thing and go back to the breath.