A Special Application

Depression plays tricks on you. It tells you things are hopeless, when there's hope. It tells you life is only suffering, when there is joy and love to be discovered. It tells you that you can't do this or that, when you can take action in spite of your feelings It tells you there's no way out, when there is a way out. Our natural response to feeling depressed is to try to find a way to feel better. This sounds reasonable but it sets us off on an endless loop of focusing on our feelings and trying to fix them directly with our mind. Generally, this doesn't work - what you pay attention to grows. Our feelings fluctuate -- all feelings, including depression. We notice this process. We accept whatever feelings arise. We stop fighting with the feelings we don't like and take them with us as we go about our work in the world. As we learn to coexist with our depression, the depression loses its power over us. We conquer depression through acceptance, activity and purpose.

A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness
 a natural approach to mental wellness book cover

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Nancy Etcoff: Happiness and its surprises

“A man's concern, even his despair over the worthwhileness of life is an existential distress, but by no means a mental disease. It may well be interpreting the first in terms of the latter motivates a doctor to bury his patient's existential despair under a heap of tranquilizing drugs. It is his task, rather, to pilot the patient through his existential crisis of growth and development.” -- Viktor Frankl, M.D. (psychiatrist and survivor of Auschwitz concentration camp)

Recommended Books

A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness
by Gregg Krech
If you are looking for wise and practical guidance about living well, you won’t find a finer resource than A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness. Read more about the book, A Natural Aprroach to Mental Wellness here.

A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness by Gregg KrechBuy now

bulletThe AntiDepressant Fact Book
by Peter Breggin
What your doctor won't tell you about Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, and Luvox.

“From the experience with the fickleness of feelings and the unpredictability of their onset and departure, I was able to say to myself, 'This will pass'. It is knowing that the feelings of depression will pass, and will probably visit me again, that makes living with very uncomfortable feelings a very doable thing.” -- Julie Phillips

Articles From the ToDo Institute’s Resource Library

Japanese Psychology and Purposeful Living

Rx for Holiday Blues: Coping with the Ups and Downs of the Holiday Season

Ideally, the holiday season should be a time for good cheer. But for many, they are also a time for loneliness, sadness, anxiety, depression, and family conflict. Frequently people feel a profound sense of relief once the holidays are over. It's a bit ironic that we should look forward to the end of this season, when it could be a time for celebration, thanksgiving, and family reunion. Here are seven things you can do to make this a better holiday season for you and those around you:
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Dancing with the Dragon (of Depression)

After 22 years, I completed my Bachelors degree in Psychology. I did what needed to be done despite my feelings. I help others, victims of crime and violence, to practice their lives. I help them to be productive and grateful, to direct their attention to the moment -- not to what came before, but to the here and now. I help them to dance with their dragons, as I have learned to do. For our dragons will always be part of us. It is a matter of accepting them, embracing them as our greatest teachers. They remind us that our feelings are always changing, shifting, like the Japanese sky. And it's not what's at the end of the road, but the journey which deserves our attention and for which we can be grateful. Thank you, Dragon.
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The full text of this article is available to ToDo Institute members only.

Life after Death: Tools for Coping with Grief

I have learned to take in more of reality than the fact that I have lost two parents in a short span of time, and that I did not do for them all that I wish I had done, and that I miss them like crazy. The "tools" provided by Japanese Psychology (Morita and Naikan therapies) have never served me better than when my parents died. Here are some of the ways in which one can put these tools to work in the midst of life's losses.
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The full text of this article is available to ToDo Institute members only.

Dealing with the Downs and Outs of Depression

These are seven strategies that can help you respond more effectively to depression. They're not easy and developing skill will take some time and effort. But you'll find that most of these strategies will benefit you in other areas of your life: a healthier body, more intimate relationships, and a closer connection between your spiritual beliefs and your daily life.
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The Noonday Devil

By Fr. Ron Rolheiser

When the Desert fathers first formulated a list of what they considered "deadly sins", they included the sin of sadness. It wasn't until the 17th century that it was dropped from the list, replaced by sloth. In Morita Therapy we consider depression, and all feelings, something which is uncontrollable by our will. In this article, Fr. Rolheiser describes the kind of depression which has no apparent connection to one's circumstances - acedia.

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Tips for Dealing with Depression

By Gregg Krech (from The Downs and Outs of Depression)

  1. Get your body moving - exercise - even though you don't feel like it
  2. Change your diet - among other things, eliminate sugar and caffeine
  3. Take steps to resolve or change your life situation (address your problems constructively)
  4. Learn the skill of "coexisting with unpleasant feelings" (accept what cannot be controlled)
  5. Learn to work skillfully with your attention
  6. Practice self-reflection to get a more accurate picture of your reality (see maxim below)
  7. Find a purpose that is worth living and striving for


“Examine Life Outside the Boundaries of Your Difficulties” -- Gregg Krech

Periodically we found ourselves in challenging situations - we lose our jobs, get sick, experience the death of a loved one or end a long term relationship. In these moments we can become immersed in our own pain. Our attention becomes trapped within limited boundaries of our suffering. But there is more to life than we are seeing. As we expand our view of life we may find that even within the context of our suffering, compassion, care and support are our close companions. Often, as a result of the support of others, we are able to recover from our problems. But how often do we make room for gratitude in the midst of suffering.

When we expand the boundaries of our attention we see a life in which we are continuously supported through our most difficult moments. A life which is actually helping us to deal with our difficulties.

From Naikan: Gratitude, Grace and the Japanese Art of Self-Reflection by Gregg Krech. Stone Bridge Press, 2002.

“The best cure for worry, depression, melancholy, brooding, is to go deliberately forth and try to lift with one's sympathy the gloom of somebody else.” -- Arnold Bennett

“In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” -- Albert Camus

“Many of us spend our whole lives running from feeling with the mistaken belief that you cannot bear the pain. But you have already borne the pain. What you have not done is feel all you are beyond that pain.” -- Kahlil Gibran

Thirty Thousand Days

Thirty Thousand Days: A Journal for Purposeful Living

Thirty Thousand Days arrived and after spending some time reading the articles, I must say that you have outdone yourselves. The journal looks great, the articles are terrific and the paper even feels good. Congratulations!” -- Dan Lucas, Arlington, VA

“What an OUTSTANDING issue! I devoured it cover to cover and found each and every article inspiring, humbling and informative. It is a real pleasure to continue receiving this fabulous publication.” -- Jane Skiba, New Paltz, NY

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