As i was enjoying a sunset last night, it occurred to me that something else might be going on. There is another way of looking at routines: They can make life boring. If we do the same thing over and over again without asking ourselves if it still brings us pleasure, maybe that is what actually leads to our disconnection. I’ve surely noticed the wondering voice “what’s wrong with me that i don’t enjoy the folk dancing anymore?” Feelings of guilt and worthlessness are another symptom of depression.
Marshall Rosenberg writes about depression differently: “Depression is the reward for being good” (71). We learn to keep doing what we’re doing, rather than stopping it if we’d rather do something else. We don’t allow ourselves to say “you know, i don’t enjoy this anymore.” The standard definition of depression actually reinforces that. Breaking out of a routine is seen as pathological. And, at least in my case, not recognizing this led to my guilt-feelings and my sense of worthlessness. “I shouldn’t change my mind about something! I should continue to enjoy what i’ve always enjoyed! There must be something wrong with me if i don’t!” Those are shaming messages.
Instead, i could practice acceptance. Right now, i am enjoying doing things more spontaneously – or at least learning how to do that. This might mean that i don’t do today what i did yesterday – or that my week doesn’t contain the same things that last week contained. I am exploring. There is another side to shaking up our routines that the depression tie-in masks as well: Learning new things, exploring new things is also a way to keep our brains healthy.