Sharing Our Joys and Sorrows with Friends

Shared joy is double joy; Shared sorrow is half a sorrow Swedish Proverb

What would life be like without friends? Not too good, at best. Even some of our relatives wind up also being our friends. Although I don’t have any brothers or sisters, I have had a lot of cousins, even second and third ones, who have been kind of like siblings to me; and some of them were among my closest friends. I also have some non-relatives who have been my most beloved and cherished friends for many decades; a few for over half a century. Over the years we’ve shared our joys and sorrows with each other; we’ve laughed and cried (a little) together, and we’ve stayed connected. In many ways, we’ve been dependent on each other and have given support and comfort whenever needed. But isn’t that what friends are for?

Back in 1982, Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager wrote a song in answer to that question; Dionne Warwick’s recording of it is an all-time classic.

That's What Friends Are For

Keep smilin’, keep shinin’
Knowin’ you can always count on me, for sure
That’s what friends are for
For good times and bad times
I’ll be on your side forever more
That’s what friends are for

The dictionary defines a friend as a person whom one knows, likes, and trusts; a favored companion; one who supports and sympathizes. I even have some young friends who fit that description. I feel very fortunate to have the friends I have, both the old ones and the new ones. But, of all of them, two of my best friends in life have been my mother and my father. Although they are both gone, they are still my friends. I use the wisdom they gave me often; I cherish it and them and know I am blessed to have had them in my life. While they were here we shared our joys and sorrows with each other; we were connected, interdependent, and felt a certain oneness when together.

One of my students and a friend Barbara Page, whose father had recently died, shared with me a letter he had written to her when she was 13 years old. Barbara had had a “crushing” experience at a dance and was very disappointed and depressed over the experience. Her dad, sensing her sadness, wrote her the letter, which she has carried with her in her wallet all these years . . . and still does

Dearest Barbara,

The greatest thrill of happiness is the sharing of our joy with the
ones we love and the ones who love us. Equally important is the
sharing of our sadness, both great and small, with our loved ones.

How terrible it would be to have to keep our joys and sorrows silent!

But, joys and sorrows are brief interludes, signposts sprinkled along our
journey through life. When joy comes to us, we relish and share
the pause, and continue on; but when momentary unhappiness befalls
us, we pause only long enough to tidy up our hearts, and then we
continue on wiser and better equipped for the much rougher road
ahead. A full life has never known complete joy, because unhappiness
is the lubricant to a full life.

“Along my journey, I cried ’cause I had no shoes,
‘Til I met a man along the way who had no legs.”

Your Father

EinsteinWe even have friends we’ve never met. I have lots of those: Gandhi, Einstein, Thich Nhat Hanh, Schweitzer, Jesus and the Buddha, to name a few. In that category, one of my friends . . . the late mythologist, writer and lecturer Joseph Campbell, is the source of one of my favorite quotations. Who said it first isn’t known, but besides Campbell, Will Rogers liked it and used it often. Here’s the quote: “There are no such things as strangers, only friends we’ve not yet met.”

Actually, being a Buddhist, I think there’s a good possibility that the Buddha may be the original source for that quotation. If not, I’m sure he agreed with it. In fact, he took it a step further. He taught that not only were we all friends connected to and dependent on each other, but we are all one. Maybe that’s why we feel the way we do about our friends. Maybe we feel that they are a part of us. We know they are a part of our life, an important and needed part. But maybe it’s more than that. No maybe about it; it’s all of the above.

The Buddha spoke of two truths: the mundane truth which is the one we use in carrying out the daily routine tasks of life, and the ultimate truth. Knowing the ultimate truth makes us more skillful in our every-day decision-making process. The mundane truth is that we are each separate individuals. The ultimate truth is that we also are all one; each one of us a part of the whole, like the Earth is one planet, but it consists of land, water, flora, animals, people, etc. Like one’s body: one wonderful vehicle with lots of parts . . . including arms, legs, fingers, toes, eyes, brains, heart, etc. (See March 2010 blog.)

If our brains aren’t able to fully understand and process this idea of oneness, then perhaps it’s a truth we can just leave to the heart for processing. Who said that it’s only the brain that thinks, feels and perceives? And who said that all the heart does is pump? There’s something Zen-ish here that may be worth meditating on. In any event, it’s not difficult to understand and appreciate the idea of friends and friendships, whether they come from our family or someone else’s, whether we’ve met them or not, and whether they are here or gone away.

We share our lives with our friends, and they share theirs with us. Sharing our friends’ joys and sorrows put ours in proper perspective. Each of us benefits from such sharing and helps us realize that the good times and the bad times make up the fullness of life itself. In fact, there are no good times and bad times; there are only times. We are the ones doing the labeling. Best not to get stuck with the label. Just keep smilin’, keep shinin’, knowing you can always count on a friend. It can be your dad or mom, your brother or cousin, a non-relative, or even someone you haven’t yet met.

Today’s article was shared from the following website: http://buddhismteacher.com/blog/?p=645

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Joy & Sorrow…Overcoming Depression

Weeping may endure for a night but Joy comes in the morning Psalms 30:5We all want Joy and we will all experience loss and sorrow. More and more of us seem to be adding the experience of depression to our life resumes.

I have been through depression – the very worst form. I never want to go there again and I have learned that depression does not have to be a life sentence. With the right ingredients, it can almost always be overcome! The catch is the right ingredients. You can’t do the same things you have been doing – there will have to be some changes. Remember that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result! We don’t want to be guilty of insanity, we want to overcome depression!

I believe that more people need to know that anti-depressants are not always effective (for me they made no difference) and that answers do not always come in a prescription bottle.

Today, I share the story of another woman that experienced depression. She now works to help others overcome depression. I hope you will read her story and if you are suffering from depression, I hope you will commit to taking those steps to overcome and defeat your depression!

Depression Story

There is hope! You are worth it!

by Merri Ellen Giesbrecht

I remember not so long ago sitting on my couch unable to form any words with my mouth. My husband asked me questions and I could only muster up enough strength to look back at him with a look of “why don’t you just kill me now?” I couldn’t speak. I was so emotionally exhausted and mentally burnt out from suffering from depression. I could not sleep and would get up in the middle of the night to stare out the window in darkness. I was completely lost in depression.

I was 25 years old and I had suffered a traumatic work related experience that left me in emotional shock and disbelief. I went through anti depressant drugs which didn’t work for me and only made things worse. In fact, they brought on thoughts of suicide instead.

My world had crumbled due to the recent loss of my job thanks to the betrayal of mentors whom I had admired and sought for advice. Problem was their advice got me in hot water. Perhaps I wasn’t strong enough to make my own decision and listen to the warning bells going off in my own head. Now I was devastated.

The ones I admired and trusted had abandoned me. My life was now in pieces and my career as the department’s head stripped away from me thanks to another’s selfish ambition. I forever played the events over and over in my mind and I grew in anger, bitterness and depression.

Their words and actions cut threw me because I had put those leaders on such a high pedestal and when they let me down, I was deflated and incorrectly thought God was unhappy with me. I put those leaders in the place of God and so I thought surely God did not love me to allow such a thing to happen to me.

My family managed to get me outside to walk and get exercise. My father in law and I were walking alongside each other and we looked down and saw coffee cups littered on the ground. He asked me if I thought it was the fault of the coffee shop that their litter was on the ground. I looked at him strangely. Then he reminded me that even though God-fearing people had betrayed me, I should not attach them to God.

Amidst all of this, my husband and I were also expecting our first child. It was hard to feel any joy over the event at the time of my pregnancy. But, I now realize it was God’s perfect timing. My depression was so horrible that I would easily have committed suicide but for some reason could not bring myself to harm an unborn child. It was the child within me that kept me alive.

I tore myself up inside, attacking myself for trusting the wrong people as my leaders, I remember one early morning around 3am not being able to sleep with all the anger, bitterness and depression. I got up and yelled at God through my window looking outside as the rain poured down. The tears flowed alongside the rain. I got my Bible out and started reading in the Psalms where David is crying out wanting an answer from God as to why his enemies surrounded him. A familiar cry came from within my own heart, “Where are you God!?”

On that early morning and through the tears, I looked up and I saw a vision of God opening His arms out to me and I heard a voice say, “Trust me”. I then remembered Proverbs 3:5-6 which reads,

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.” (The Message)

Then my mind went to the story of Joseph in the Old Testament who was betrayed by his brothers and thrown into a pit and sold as a slave. Later, his master’s wife accused him of doing wrong to her and he was thrown in jail. I could definitely relate. I read the entire story again of how God was still with Joseph and God used the evil that was done to him for good. God somehow took Joseph from slavery and into the position of governor of the land of Egypt under Pharaoh to save the people from famine. Joseph’s despair later enabled him to bring hope to many.

When my son was later born, I gave him the middle name of Joseph, for my son was my hope child and a constant reminder that God could use the evil that was done to me and turn it into good. I hung on to that hope that perhaps my hardship could one day prevent other people’s hardship just like Joseph did.

My doctor at the time, offered little help other than drugs. Well-meaning people made comments like “you’ll get through this” but that did not provide hope. I soon realized that if I was going to get out of depression, then I had to take the steering wheel and do something about it myself. I couldn’t leave it to time or only to my doctor to help me. I couldn’t blame others for my state of mind. So, I set out determined to find an answer and the answer I found was different than what I heard on the commercials for anti-depressants (no kidding). I started to research medical journals on my own and discovered what truly cures depression.

That seems like ages ago…

However, it was only a few months later that I was able to find joy again. I came out of my pit and these days I look out of my window excited about life. When my husband talks to me, I am excited to answer! My passion is for life. My joy is found in living and in helping others find joy out of depression!

This is where God began to turn the evil into good…
After having coffee with a friend and months after my recovery, she asked me,

“Wow, you’ve come a long way! What exactly do you think helped you get out of depression?”

She had been a loyal friend giving me strength throughout my journey back to joy and had been there through it all. I shared with her the discovery I made of 6 major ingredients that the medical journals reveal to cure depression better than any antidepressant.  They are all ingredients that can easily be implemented. There are some specific guidelines that originate with general lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, supplements, sleeping routines, social cirles and your self-talk (how you talk to yourself).  The website below explains them.

The more we talked, the more we realized that many of our friends and family members were going through the same thing and needed to hear my depression story and what helped me. Perhaps my story could help people around the world!

So, I started out doing research on using the internet for sharing my story. I had no formal training in this whatsoever but that didn’t stop me. I went to work. Soon I was interacting with thousands of people in over 80 countries. I absolutely loved the emails I started to receive from people sharing how their lives became changed after reading my own story and my research on my website.

One woman had been on antidepressant drugs for over twenty years but became depression-free and drug-free after going through my compiled story and research.

Another woman wrote…

“I just want to thank you. These tips have really changed my life in less than a month. I honestly believe that God has brought this website over my path for recovery. The work you done is wonderful and a true inspiration. If I think where I was a few weeks back, I can’t believe I am out of that hole. God will bless you for this wonderful work you are doing. You have inspired me so. Thanks again.”

The act of putting my website together to help others has only helped me further in my moving beyond depression. I am more aware of what to look out for in my life and I am having great joy helping others!

I’ve even found it in my heart to forgive what was done to me. It’s the only way to survive. Do I still feel angry? Sure, from time to time. But, I have learned that anger gets me nowhere. I am now stronger because of what I had to go through; and perhaps smarter. No longer do I put others in the place of God either. That role is only for God. He is the creator of the universe and only He is perfect – no person; only God. The best thing is, not only is God all powerful, He is also personal and wants to know me. Psalm 139 reads,

“God… I’m an open book to you;
      even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
      you formed me in my mother’s womb.
   I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
   You know me inside and out,
      you know every bone in my body” (excerpted from The Message)

Once you fall into a pit of depression, it can be very hard to get out. But, it is possible and you need to be shown the way like a guide with a flash light through a very dark tunnel. I had friends, family and my hours of research to guide me. If my research and personal experience could help you along your own journey, you are welcome to read about it at: www.cure-your-depression.com

There is hope! You are worth it!

Story is shared from the following website: http://www.thoughts-about-god.com/stories/giesbrecht_m.html

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Worry Does Not Empty Tomorrow of its Sorrow…

Worry  tree-76897We all worry a little from time to time. However, when that worry becomes more than a brief moment and, instead, becomes a habitual way of life; it becomes a deterrent to our progress and our happiness. Worry and fear are both faith erasers. Where one or both are found, faith is eroded and/or non-existent. Faith and hope feed our progress. Worry and fear destroy our progress. God’s desire for us is to grow and flourish! He is not a God of fear and worry – He is a God of faith, hope and love! When you are inclined to worry, think about how God would want you to handle the situation? Would He want you to shrink with fear and worry? Or, would He want you to move forward with hope and faith? May your today be full of faith and strength!

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