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Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, professor of neuropsychology at the University of Southern California, who has long studied the effects of nutrition on the brain says, "Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain. The more balanced you make your meals, the more balanced will be your brain function-ing." Consider choosing foods that vary in vitamins and min-erals and contain omega-3 and other healthy ingredients. The bottom line is to make sure you nourish yourself on a regular basis. If you're too tired and overwhelmed to go out to shop, local supermarkets and gourmet food companies offer online shopping and delivery. If cooking wisely and well is not your forte, call on friends and family to help you do so. Also, local churches, temples, and community organizations offer Meals-on-Wheels programs, which deliver nutritious foods right to your doorstep at no cost. ving with depression requires the creation of a safe and strong environment. Teach yourself to monitor thoughts and feelings that result from various experiences. If certain situations leave you agitated, upset, or helpless, see if you can minimize your exposure to them. If you can't sidestep them, consider what you can do to strengthen your reserve. Are negative thinking patterns returning when you're with certain people? Analyze why this is happening. One of the most consistent findings of positive psychologists has been the benefits of meditation on one's ability to focus and produce good work. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that meditation can quiet fear and anxiety throughout the day. A study at Leiden University in the Netherlands showed that subjects who practiced "open-monitoring meditation" came up with a wider range of ideas and put themselves in a more creative state of mind. Set aside a few minutes each day to meditate. While researchers suggest a twenty-minute meditation session is ideal, even just taking five minutes to stop and focus on breathing has been found to make a significant impact on your ability to work. Alternatively, if your job is stressing you out, break out that downward-facing dog. A study of workers in the UK found that those who practiced weekly fifty-minute sessions of yoga for eight weeks reported lower stress levels and less back pain than those who did not do yoga. When we hear "leisure," we think "fun." But not all free time makes people equally happy.

Some activities are a blast in the moment but can make you feel like crap the next day (e.g., the things you did for fun in college). Others may nourish your life satisfaction for years but not feel all that fun while you're doing them. Sometimes finding happiness in your free time is all about getting out of your comfort zone; other times it's about rolling into your favorite bar with the same people you see almost every day. So how should you be spending your time to maximize your happiness? This question is more important than ever as leisure has become a central part of our daily lives. In a comparison of attitudes in 1938 and 2014, the role of leisure as a way to bring happiness to one's life rose from eighth place to third place (first and second in 2014 were "economic stability" and "good sense of humor," respectively). We have more free time than we ever had in decades past, but we have more mindless distractions to fill it, so we must choose how to spend our time--and how much of it we spend doing each activity--wisely. Here are some science-backed ways to do just that. Could their presence be toxic? When you use self-observations, you detect what's going on in your world. Getting your act together is very lonely because very few are willing to endure and do what it takes to become the person they want to be and have the life they want. It's an uphill battle - you're not going to see too many friends along the way. You're going to spend more time with yourself than anyone else. Through it all, you have to trust that, deep down, you're doing what's right and you're going to win. You have to assure yourself that when it gets hard, you're going to keep fighting and keep pushing to win the war within and conquer yourself. Most people try getting their act together and fail. Some will support you along the way and be happy for you - but most won't care. They might even like you less because your fight reminds them of what they aren't doing and fighting for. What separates you from everyone who has tried the path you're on and failed is you're not going to quit and you're going to keep taking the punishment and getting back up until you get it right. Having your act together, naturally and effortlessly, causes you to stand head and shoulders above the 99% of those who don't make it the utmost priority to have their mind and life in the right place.

Most of us go our entire lives following the masses, listening to voices of mediocrity and failure, living fake and empty "Social Media Lives", and focusing on everything except what truly matters. We create the appearance of wealth, health, happiness, and love and at the end of the day, we're broke, never truly happy, and we never have the inner-peace we believe is found in buying "stuff" we can't afford and getting "likes" from people we don't like, don't know, and don't care about. When you work on conquering YOURSELF instead of working on conquering people and things that are a complete waste of time, you will find a real sense of peace, love, and happiness. Nothing is more painful than being out-of-control of your mind, emotions, and habits and nothing gives you more inner-peace and happiness than having your mind, emotions, habits, behavior, and life on the right track and in order. Know your triggers. Triggers are experiences that weaken your current state of functioning. Sometimes called stressors, triggers are powerful emotional and physical responses that can be set off by external events, interactions with others, and even by our own negative self-statements. Becoming familiar with what pushes your buttons, sets you off, or presses heavily on you can help minimize relapse or recurrence of depression. Discovering triggers requires you to put your needs first. This can be a straightforward exercise if that comes easy to you. If it doesn't, you'll need to work a little harder at it to be more "self focused." It took a great deal of work for me to learn my triggers, but it was well worth the effort. I learned in therapy to put myself first and to understand my needs. I'm very selective with the people in my life. If you're a supportive, nurturing, grounded person, you're in. Self-important or high maintenance? You're out. I can't juggle a lot of social experiences, as I burn out fast. The enemy is the person inside that wants to be comfortable and lazy. The enemy is the person inside that wants to avoid pain. The enemy is the person inside that wants to take the easy route.

The enemy is the person inside that wants constant attention, approval, and admiration. The enemy is the person inside that wants to continue making bad choices because they "feel" good. The enemy is the person inside who doesn't want to separate themselves from the people, places, and things that are negative, destructive, and counterproductive. YOU ARE DECIDING to hold yourself back. YOU created the life you have right now. YOU are the only one to blame for what you're feeling and experiencing. YOU are to blame for how everyone is treating you. You don't have the power to control the people, situations, and circumstances around you. You only have the power to control yourself. Getting your act together means you're going to war with yourself and destroying the thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and habits that are holding you back and keeping you from being the person you want to be. Several studies of working people found that those who are employed for a full forty hours a week feel higher levels of satisfaction in their lives than those who work part-time. A reduction in hours is generally accompanied by a drop in happiness, while a shift from part-time to full-time employment increases happiness (though if you're already working full-time, taking on an eighty-hour week will almost certainly not double your level of happiness). Even those out of work will find a greater sense of happiness by putting a full day's work into finding a new job. If you find your workweek is dragging, it's probably the job, rather than the schedule, that needs to change. Retiring early may be the dream for many: Who wouldn't want to cut out the nine-to-five existence by the age of fifty--or thirty? But before withdrawing from the working world to spend your days sipping pina coladas, consider that early retirement might not be great for your mind or happiness. Cross-sectional studies find workers who retire early to be less happy than those who stay in the workforce through age sixty-five. Additional studies find a connection between retirement and memory--what a pair of economists call "mental retirement." Drawing on memory-test data from the United States, England, and eleven European countries, they found that the earlier people retired, the more their cognitive abilities declined. Though the research does not indicate the specific elements of work that might help maintain one's mental sharpness, the study's coauthor, Robert J. Willis, told The New York Times that even if the work itself is not stimulating, "There is evidence that social skills and personality skills--getting up in the morning, dealing with people, knowing the value of being prompt and trustworthy--are also important." Move your body.

The lethargy of depression can make exercise seem like impossibility. I know, I grew roots and collected dust when I was anchored to my depression. I can still recall how getting out of bed was a feat in and of itself. I could barely fight gravity to sit up. My body was so heavy and everything hurt. But the truth is, moving your body is a key element in keeping depression at bay.8 You don't have to run a marathon or become a gym rat. Just move your body--stretch, breathe, get yourself into a bath or shower. Tend to things around the house--chores that may have fallen to the wayside. If you can do more, start by accelerating your heart rate by doing low impact activities like walking, yoga, or swimming. Take the dog out for a walkabout or play catch with the kids. I needed a great deal of support getting myself out of the frozen state of depression. I still do. I call neighbors to set up walking dates, and I call friends for social calisthenics. I run errands daily instead of completing them in one fell swoop, and break up chores around the house so that I'm always doing something every single day. The enemy does whatever it takes to keep the high ground. To keep you immature, childish, and irresponsible - but you will not retreat. You will, not only, hold your ground, but you will push forward and hit the enemy with everything you have until you overwhelm it, break it, and destroy it. However, for more elegant, formal parties, problems can develop. Here are a few of the etiquette issues you may run into at a formal dinner party: Therefore, to the extent possible, I strongly encourage you to limit drinking, smoking, and taking recreational drugs as you work to improve depression and motivation, and to activate happiness. If you're thinking, "But drinking and smoking relax me," know I'm totally with your desire to relax, and that it's completely valid to want routine habits that evoke it.