Then, according to which box we stick it in, we perceive with a set of fixed habitual mental responses. If a particular perception has been labeled "good," then we try to freeze time right there. We grab onto that particular thought, fondle it, hold it, and we try to keep it from escaping. When that does not work, we go all-out in an effort to repeat the experience that caused the thought. Let us call this mental habit "grasping." Over on the other side of the mind lies the box labeled "bad." When we perceive something "bad," we try to push it away. We try to deny it, reject it, and get rid of it any way we can. We fight against our own experience. We run from pieces of ourselves. Let us call this mental habit "rejecting." Between these two reactions lies the "neutral" box. Here we place the experiences that are neither good nor bad. They are tepid, neutral, uninteresting. We pack experience away in the neutral box so that we can ignore it and thus return our attention to where the action is, namely, our endless round of desire and aversion. So this "neutral" category of experience gets robbed of its fair share of our attention. Let us call this mental habit "ignoring." The direct result of all this lunacy is a perpetual treadmill race to nowhere, endlessly pounding after pleasure, endlessly fleeing from pain, and endlessly ignoring 90 percent of our experience. Then we wonder why life tastes so flat. In the final analysis this system does not work. No matter how hard you pursue pleasure and success, there are times when you fail. No matter how fast you flee, there are times when pain catches up with you. And in between those times, life is so boring you could scream. Our minds are full of opinions and criticisms.

We have built walls all around ourselves and are trapped in the prison of our own likes and dislikes. We suffer. "Suffering" is a big word in Buddhist thought. It is a key term and should be thoroughly understood. The Pali word is dukkha, and it does not just mean the agony of the body. It means that deep, subtle sense of dissatisfaction that is a part of every mind moment and that results directly from the mental treadmill. The essence of life is suffering, said the Buddha. At first glance this statement seems exceedingly morbid and pessimistic. It even seems untrue. After all, there are plenty of times when we are happy. Aren't there? No, there are not. It just seems that way. Take any moment when you feel really fulfilled and examine it closely. Down under the joy, you will find that subtle, all-pervasive undercurrent of tension that no matter how great this moment is, it is going to end. No matter how much you just gained, you are inevitably either going to lose some of it or spend the rest of your days guarding what you have and scheming how to get more. And in the end, you are going to die; in the end, you lose everything. It is all transitory. Sounds pretty bleak, doesn't it? Luckily, it's not--not at all.

It only sounds bleak when you view it from the ordinary mental perspective, the very perspective at which the treadmill mechanism operates. Underneath lies another perspective, a completely different way to look at the universe. It is a level of functioning in which the mind does not try to freeze time, does not grasp onto our experience as it flows by, and does not try to block things out and ignore them. It is a level of experience beyond good and bad, beyond pleasure and pain. It is a lovely way to perceive the world, and it is a learnable skill. It is not easy, but it can be learned. We've all heard it before: "Depression is all in your head! Just give it time." Or worse, "Snap out of it already!" This kind of advice is rarely loving or helpful--though, like the broken clock that is accurate twice a day, it occasionally manages to be sort of right. That is, for people who are experiencing an ordinary case of the blues or temporary emotional upheaval due to grief or trauma, time can be an ally, and natural mental resiliency usually does return in due course. But for millions of people around the world, those more common scenarios are unfamiliar. These individuals are caught in the grip of something larger and more tenacious than that. They suffer from clinical depression, and no amount of glib advice is going to make it "go away." So, here at the beginning of our journey into Healing Depression for Life, let's orient ourselves on the map and all agree on a common starting point: Depression is real. And painful. And frightening. All too often, depression can even be life threatening when it drains a person of hope to the point of considering self-harm. Beyond the toll it takes on individual lives, depression places enormous strain on families, businesses, schools, and governments. In fact, no corner of society is immune to its disabling effects. That's true across the globe, not just in America. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) bulletin, "More than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015." WHO further estimates that "substance abuse and mental disorders," including depression, are the world's number one cause of disability--the loss of normal function at home and work. Here at home, the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that 16.2 million adults and 3.1 million adolescents between ages 12 and 17 had endured a recent "major depressive episode." Around two-thirds of those people suffered life impairments that were rated as "severe." However, approximately 37 percent of these adults and a staggering 60 percent of young people received no treatment of any kind, according to the survey.

To make matters worse, research in recent years has revealed that, of those who do seek help, approximately one-third receive little or no lasting benefit from treatments commonly used today.[3] Think about that for a moment: one in three people sees little or no long-term benefit from common treatments for depression. Clearly, the typical approaches offer very limited lasting benefits. If your current wardrobe leaves something to be desired, now might be the time to refresh it with clothes that flatter you and make you feel good. The way you dress affects the way you feel - there's wisdom in the old adage that says 'dress for the job you want, not the one you have'. Choose well-fitted clothes that reflect your personality. Make sure that when you look in the mirror, you think, 'Yes, I look good today,' rather than, 'What am I wearing?' or, 'It will have to do.' Feeling good in your clothes will make you feel more comfortable in your own skin; this will boost your confidence levels - both in the workplace and beyond. As well as choosing the right styles and cuts, your new wardrobe should be full of colours which suit your skin tone and heighten your mood. Yellow is said to make you feel happier, blue is meant to calm and red is a well-known 'power colour'. If you're more of a monochrome fan, you can still add a pop of colour through accessories, like a scarf, tie or hat. Fragrances matter: not only do they make you smell good, but they have been proven to enhance confidence. And when you smell good, you feel more attractive and better about yourself, too. Find a scent that suits your personality - something that lifts you the instant you spritz it on. Choose from four fragrance groups: floral and fruity; fresh and zesty; woody and musky; or oriental and spicy. Consider layering your scent by using soap, shower gels and body lotions with similar or complementary scents. A significant proportion of the way we communicate is done purely through body language. Before you say even a single word, you are speaking volumes through your posture, eye contact and other physical gestures. Make the most of this by consciously adjusting your body language to convey confidence. Stand tall or sit up straight, with your shoulders back and your chin up. Avoid crossing your arms, so that you appear open rather than confrontational. Try not to fiddle with your hair or clothing, and don't bite your nails or lips as this communicates that you're feeling unsettled.

Make regular eye contact with the person you're speaking to, and nod gently to offer positive reinforcement. At first it might feel unusual to focus on your body language like this, but over time these behaviours will come to feel natural, making a big difference to how other people perceive you - and how you perceive yourself. Mantras are positive words or phrases that you repeat to yourself, either out loud or in your head. Many people find mantras a powerful way of stopping negative trains of thought. If you find yourself regularly thinking, 'I can't', your mantra could be as simple as, 'I can do this' or, 'Nothing can stop me.' Develop and use a mantra of your own to repeat whenever worry or doubt try to distract you. While rituals can help people seeking to build self-control, they aren't for everyone. Ritualistic behaviors around food are not recommended for people struggling with an eating disorder. The modern workplace is a constant source of distraction. We plan to work on a big project that demands our undivided attention, but we are distracted from it by a request from our boss. We book an hour of focused work, only to be pulled into yet another "urgent" meeting. We might make time to be with our family or friends after hours, only to be called into a late-night video conference call. Though we've discussed various tactics in earlier chapters, including timeboxing, schedule syncing, and hacking back external triggers in the workplace, for some of us the problem is bigger than upgrading our skills. While learning to control distractions on our own is important, what do we do when our jobs repeatedly insist on interrupting our plans? How can we do what is best for our careers, not to mention our companies, when we're constantly distracted? Is today's always-on work environment the inescapable new normal or is there a better way? To many, the adoption of various technologies appears to be the source of the problem. After all, as technologies like email, smartphones, and group chat proliferated through enterprises, employees were expected to use these tools to deliver whatever their managers wanted, whenever they wanted it. However, new research into why we get distracted at work reveals a deeper cause. The first condition involved what the researchers called high "job strain." This factor was found in environments where employees were expected to meet high expectations yet lacked the ability to control the outcomes. Stansfeld added that this strain can be felt in white-collar as well as blue-collar jobs, and likened the feeling to working on a factory production line without a way to adjust the production pace, even when things go wrong.