Doing this too much can make you depressed

Whenever we fall into a rut, we may be tempted to "escape" to the past -- a time, our minds tell us, that was surely better than the present. But don't give in or you might sink into a depression!

Reminiscing every so often is healthy. We've all taken part in wonderful experiences we can -- and should -- look back on fondly. And if we're lucky, we captured such unforgettable moments in pictures and videos, which certainly heighten the nostalgia.

But attempting to run away from the problems we face today by living in the past certainly doesn't solve them; in fact, it can exacerbate them.

So why do people seek refuge in the past anyway?

Because the past is safe. 

We already know what happens. Whatever issues we grappled with then have already been resolved -- as opposed to now, where we don't know exactly what will happen in the future.

The mind has a way of tricking us into thinking that things were a lot better in the old days than they are now.

In some ways that may be true (e.g., we had more hair and we were in better shape, and perhaps had fewer responsibilities). But our minds conveniently edit/filter out the bad stuff so that our recollections are only the picture-worthy ones that continue to bring a smile to our faces.

The truth is that even back then we contended with different issues as well. We argued with people, had our bad moments, and were uncertain as to what the future held -- as we are now.

Indeed, we have a tendency to look back on the past through rose-colored glasses when we want a break from the present. It's as if we put our blinders on temporarily.

This can potentially make one depressed, as they begin to believe that things will never go back to the way they were. He or she will despair at the thought of their best days being behind them.

The key to real happiness is living in the moment -- as hard as that may be sometimes -- and considering all the fantastic possibilities that lie ahead.

Think of it this way: We have so many things left to do, see, and accomplish. Maybe you've always wanted to start your own business, write a book, or visit China, but just haven't gotten around to it. Now's the time to pursue such goals!

We are better people now than we were back then because we've confronted tough situations along the way that have made us stronger and more resilient. Having the experience and wisdom to make sounder decisions should never be downplayed.

Whatever you're going through, never stop believing in yourself. You'll get through it as you did before. And chances are one day you'll reflect on this time as a great period in your life!

When your mind tries to take you down memory lane to flee from today's challenges, resist the urge to do so. Live for today so that it can be even better than yesterday was.

Life's too short to sweat the small stuff

Have you noticed how often we tend to dwell on little things that, in the grand scheme of things, are not all that important?

One thing is to worry about a health issue or whether you have enough money to put food on the table for your family tonight.

Another is worrying about small stuff we have little to no control over. Here are a few examples:

  • Whether the panel you interviewed with for a new job thought you seemed too interested -- or not interested enough
  • Whether your date noticed you had a small hole in your shirt 
  • Whether your friend is losing interest in hanging out with you because he doesn't seem to call or visit like he used to
Most of the things we agonize over can be investigated or resolved with a quick call or email.

When you worry so much about things over which you have no control, it builds anxiety, which can adversely impinge on your happiness and well-being.

Let things be. Once something has taken place, you don't get a "do over." Revisiting it in your mind and imagining alternative scenarios won't do you any good. Instead, move on and focus on the present.

We need to resist the urge to make mountains out of molehills, which tends to happen when we allow our emotions to get the best of us.

Instead of thinking of the absolute worst outcomes, why not think that things will turn out better? That the right job awaits you, you made a favorable impression on your date, or that you'll clear up any misunderstandings with your friend?

Adopting a more optimistic outlook can go a long way toward avoiding vicious cycles of negativity that will only result in unhealthy outcomes like anxiety and depression.

Strive to see the glass as half full. Don't allow things like what other say or do hijack your mind. Instead, suffuse your mind with happy thoughts.

Focus on whatever makes you feel alive. When you find yourself harping on minute stuff, ask yourself this question, "Will I be thinking about this a year from now?"

Be careful who you trust

Just the other day, I came across the following quote:

"Make sure everyone in your 'boat' is rowing and not drilling holes when you're not looking."

In other words, know your circle. Familiarize yourself with the company you keep.

Not every person who smiles at you and tells you nice things is your friend -- let alone someone in whom you should confide your biggest secrets. As I've stated in recent posts, some people are masterful at faking it. They're pretenders.

It's not always easy to distinguish genuine people from fakers, but one of the telltale signs is when their actions don't seem to mirror their words.

For example, in the workplace they may claim to be working hard, but that might not jell with the fact they're always trying to leave early or dump their work on subordinates.

Then there are those friends who say they care about you, but never seem to spare a moment to call you or reply to your texts.

Again, when what people say and what they do are repeatedly out of alignment, it means they should not be trusted.

They might pledge they'll never tell anyone something you related in confidence, but don't be fooled. They'll break their silence when it's most convenient for them, i.e., after a fallout with you or as a way of currying someone else's favor who may have a penchant for gossip.

And then there are those who you've known for a long time -- people with whom you go back decades -- who can suddenly turn on you. You could never have foreseen the about-face and there's little you could do other than question why he or she betrayed your trust and decide whether the relationship can be salvaged following the affront.

No matter how much you think you can trust people, protect yourself by not divulging every personal detail about your life -- whether in person, via the phone, or on social media. Sometimes there are things no one else should know.

At the same time, you shouldn't press others for personal information if they seem reluctant to do so. We should all respect one another's privacy.

Trust yourself before trusting anyone else.

The 5 biggest dating turn-offs

We've all been on terrible dates we have etched in our memory -- ones we wish we could undo with one snap of the fingers.

When it comes to things that turn people off on dates, many people would agree that these rank pretty high on the list:

1. The person can't stop talking about themselves. They blather on about their car, job, or neighbor's cat, and you can't seem to get a word in edgewise no matter how hard you try. A person who's this self-absorbed and inconsiderate, needless to say, is not relationship material and should be weeded out.

2. They have bad manners. The first turn-off mentioned certainly falls into this camp. Beyond being a blabbermouth, the person might chew with their mouth open, look at their phone constantly, or flirt with the waiter/waitress.

3. They're argumentative. There's a fine line between putting your point across with conviction and trying to lock horns with your date just for the sake of proving you're right.

4. They seem desperate. When your date is already talking marriage, kids, or going on a trip together to a faraway island, you know something is fishy. You should never feel as though you're being pushed to do something you may not be ready to do.

5. They're dishonest. If you catch your date in a lie this early in the game, what does that say about how trustworthy they'd be in a relationship? Sure, everyone puts their best foot forward in the beginning, but to lie so soon is to communicate that you just don't care.

So if your date is overly loquacious, rude, combative, clingy, or insincere, it should raise red flags about their fitness as a long-term partner.

The strongest people do this...

The strongest people do what John Adams (1735-1826), the second president of the United States, advised us to do over 200 years ago:

"Always stand on principle...even if you stand alone." 

Put another way, Adams suggested that we stand up for what we believe in without ever giving in to pressure to change.

Doing so isn't always easy, and few knew this better than Adams himself. For example, he was roundly criticized by his own party for trying to avert rather than push for war with France, which carried out a series of attacks on U.S. shipping between 1798 and 1800.

Had he pursued the latter course, his Federalist party might have come out victorious in the Election of 1800 against Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans, who sided with France. But Adams refused to let politics get in the way of his bedrock principles.

His are words that we should all live by.

While none of us want to ruffle people's feathers by not doing what they want or not thinking as they do, we can't compromise our values, attitudes, and beliefs just to please others. If they can't bear the thought of associating with someone whose opinions and preferences diverge from their own, then maybe it's time to go our separate ways.

And let's not forget one important thing: Our views change as we age. We should never be expected to hold the same perspectives and interests at 20 as we do at 40. Indeed, everything from shifting priorities to different experiences in our jobs and in our relationships can alter how we see the world.

Do what you feel is right, even if it makes you unpopular among your peers. Don't cave in to pressure to do things you don't wish to do, whether it's date someone a friend is trying to fix you up with, change religions, or get drunk during a night out on the town. In the end, they will respect you more for sticking to your guns, even if they never admit to it.

It shows, above anything else, that you have a strong character. You should never feel forced to live up to anyone's expectations but your own. It's better to stand alone than with people who refuse to accept you for who you are!