The latest exercise in The Happiness Trap asks the following questions:

  1. How would I act differently if painful thoughts and feelings were no longer an obstacle?
  2. What projects or activities would I start (or continue) if my time and energy weren’t consumed by troublesome emotions?
  3. What would I do if fear were no longer an issue?
  4. What would I attempt if thoughts of failure didn’t deter me?

The suggestion is to spend 10 minutes thinking about and writing down answers to these questions.  Since I knew I’d want to blog about it anyway, I’m just writing them directly into this blog post.

  1. If painful thoughts and feelings weren’t an obstacle I would act more carefree and more mindfully focused on current events.  I would be able to experience pain without it spiraling into depression.  I would take action on the minor chores that I tend to procrastinate on.
  2. If I had more time and energy I would be hard at work on my book.  I’d also pick up the hobbies I used to participate in – knitting, photography.
  3. If fear were no longer an issue I would travel more.  I would make plans to visit friends across the country and around the world, and I would drive to activities that I currently want to do but find out of my reach.
  4. If thoughts of failure didn’t deter me I would go back to college.  I will need quite a lot of credits, wanting to transition from the theatre degree I had in progress to a psychology degree, and at this point I don’t even feel I could successfully complete one course.  In order to take on-campus courses I would have to do a significant amount of the driving that I fear, and with online courses I don’t think I could focus well enough to complete my work from home.

Medication has helped with the completely crippling anxieties and depressive thoughts, but I’ve settled into a “life better than dying”, not actually a “life worth living”.  For that it will take a lot more hard work in therapy.