Life Hack for Overcoming Depression: Don’t do good deeds

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My dad loves animals and trains. He is almost eighty.

He is morose half the time and cheerful the other half. ‘I’m not a pessimist. I’m a cynic,’ he used to say, but I think this was just a technicality.

The good thing about my father is that though he was depressed most of his life, he is happy now. It took him a long time—-much longer than it took me but then again he didn’t have the kind of help I did-—but now he is happy and alone with his dog and his cats and his ideas and I don’t have to worry about him anymore.

Maybe I learned more from him than I realize even now.

He said: “You don’t need to be any good to anyone else. You don’t need to do good deeds and be a good person. Just live the way God meant you to. He made you just like you are with your own DNA that nobody else has, because that’s the way he likes you. The rest will come naturally.”

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14 comments

  1. Very liberating to read that from your father. It’s not a commandment, Thou shalt do good deeds. Doing good deeds is great but not required. Doing good deeds out of duty or obedience is just silly. Maybe even self-destructive.

    1. It was very liberating for me, too, at the time. And there was a long time I had to work on myself – no “energy,” so to speak, for anybody else. Now those years are paying huge dividends every day….

  2. Your father knows what he is talking about. The day I realized that I didn’t have to do anything for others in order to be “good” was the same day I became content with life.
    Most people resent doing things for other people and they only do it to be “good”. Doing “good deeds” for others loses its value if all we are really doing is trying to convince ourselves that we are a “good” person. Denying this is denying the truth. Denial is the evil inside of us. Denial does not allow us to see the truth and the truth is the only thing that is real.
    Great topic for post – sticking this in as link today…
    Thanks for the material :)!

  3. My yoga instructor was talking about this subject last month. He said if you do good deeds FOR other people, you are doing it FOR them, and in that you will expect something in return; even if it is just a simple thank you. If you are going to do something good that invovles someone else, do it for you. Do it because it makes you feel better or makes you feel good. By simply shifting the idea that you are doing it for them, to you are doing it for yourself, can make a huge difference in avoiding burnt out. I know that advice has certainly helped me!

    1. Yes – I read this much later in Conversations with God Part Two – If you force yourself to always deny your true passions, you won’t do yourself any good at all.

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