In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I thought it only fitting to write about love. Don’t worry- I’m not going to write a love story here. What I’m going to write about is how you can harness the energy of love to help pull yourself out of depression.
I love to surf. Give me a clean, shoulder high surf break, a sunny day, and a longboard with a good coat of wax on it, and my feet won’t touch dry land all day long. On days like that, I’ve been known to stay out until my arms are so exhausted it becomes a struggle for me to hold them over my head once I finally make it home to shower. It drives my wife nuts, because she’ll paddle in as soon as her hands start to prune. But I’ve digressed. Back to the matter at hand!
Thinking back to the very first time I ever stood up on a surfboard, I remember that I was struggling with a particularly bad bout of depressions that day. I was in Mexico on a business trip, and I’d stayed up late the night before drinking and partying with clients. As anyone who struggles with depression will tell you, the morning after a long night of drinking is pretty much guaranteed to serve up some of the fiercest depression and anxiety there is.
I barely made it to breakfast that morning. The staff was packing up the buffet by the time I trudged in. I heaped a plate with what was left to pick from and looked around for somewhere to sit. I spotted two guys I knew and sat down to join them.
“We’re leaving in half an hour to take a surfing lesson,” one of the guys told me as we finished up our breakfast. “You ought to come with us.”
I’d never been surfing a day in my life. However, being an athlete and a swimmer, surfing had always been of interest to me. For obvious reasons, living in Kansas City just never offered me an opportunity to give it a try. So, I agreed to join the guys for their lesson.
Fast forward. Later on that afternoon, after what seemed like an eternity of struggle, I finally managed to catch my first wave. The second I stood up on that surfboard, my depression was gone. I want to be clear. I didn’t feel less depressed. I didn’t feel a little bit better. My depression was gone. And it stayed gone for hours after I strapped my surfboard to the top of the van.
I didn’t know it at the time, but what I experienced that day was something known as the Flow State. The Flow State is defined as an optimal state of consciousness, or a state where you feel your best and perform your best. When you are in Flow, you have the ability to exercise intense, undistracted focus in the present moment. Your actions and awareness seem to merge into one. You feel total control, and all of your self-consciousness drops away. You lose complete track of space and time, and you feel nothing other than intense joy. Surfers commonly call the feeling I’m describing Zen, but whatever you want to call it, it’s when you get lost in the moment and have full command of the task at hand. And most importantly, when you enjoy it.
Now, to be clear, accessing Flow that day didn’t cure my depression. It just made it go away for a long while afterwards. Furthermore, it wasn’t just a one time occurrence. I’ve had the same experience every time I’ve popped up into a wave ever since. But, the bottom line is that when I surf, my depression disappears. The question is, why? I wrote about this subject extensively in my book, but for purposes of this blog I’m going to keep the answer short. The reason surfing- or Flow, to be more specific- is so effective at squashing depression is because it is an energetic state powered by the strongest wavelength of energy known to man. What energy is that, you ask? The energy of love.
You don’t have to go surfing to access Flow, nor do you have to surf to harness the power of love to help pull yourself out of depression. All you have to do is seek out opportunities to get lost in the moment doing things that you truly love. Or, better yet, by giving your time, money and energy to people and causes that you truly love. As we discussed in the very first blog I published on my website, depression is an energetic state. And because of that, the cure for depression depends on you shifting your energy to a higher frequency. Like I said a bit earlier in this blog, love is the most powerful wavelength of energy known to man. So, on this Valentine’s Day, make it a point to observe the spirit of the holiday and love, because love truly is the cure for depression. Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!