The following are reasons I’ve felt miserable. I don’t get down often, but it does happen. When I creep into the realms of darkness, chances are I’m committing the sins on this list. If you’re feeling shitty, I bet you are too. Don’t worry though. I’ve got the medicine. Which of these are you guilty of, my down and depressed friend?

Worrying About Shit You Can’t Control

It’s interesting how much life is like poker. Over the course of a game (a life) all the players will get the same starting hands (a good or bad situation), but there are some players that are better able to make money than the losers (there are winners and losers in life, regardless of how they were born). Oh, sure it helps if you start out with pocket aces, but that’s a rare situation (which is why less than one percent of people are born to families that make more than $250,000 a year). Not only do you have no control over the cards you get, but you also won’t be able to control the cards that come out of the deck (certain events in your life). You also can’t control the other players. The only thing you can control is how you play your own hand. You are only master of your own life.

My funny bone always gets tickled to the point of nausea when I watch a poker player complain about an opponent’s luck being the only reason he beat him. My other favorite rant is when players complain that a guy shouldn’t have even been in the hand with the cards he was dealt. They think they should have just folded. Instead they stayed, got lucky and took a lot of money off the table. In life, some of the greatest successes are the result of staying in a situation you should have exited long ago. No one likes to admit it, but our lives are heavily governed by random events and statistical probabilities.

You can’t control the fickle forces in life. Thinking you should be able to or that they should bend to your will because you cry or pout doesn’t accomplish anything. It will only frustrate and sadden the hell out of you. In life (just like in poker) the player that is consistently a winner doesn’t always win the big hands or has the best starting cards. He also doesn’t bitch and complain when someone catches lucky cards to beat him or the odds didn’t go in his favor. This is because he knows that the game is largely out of his control. Focus on tightening up your life game.

Don’t worry about shit that goes on around you that you can’t control. I could make a list of all the things you can’t control, but instead I’ll keep it short. The only thing you can control is yourself.

Not Making Decisions

Few people make real decisions in their life. Therefore, few people are happy in their life. You think you make decisions, but you’re just going along with the flow. It starts when you’re young and you are told which school to go to and which classes to take. Then it continues on to college where you’re expected to form the worst social habits, but are lead to believe life is like this. Your parents tell you that a certain field of study is unacceptable (directly or more insidiously, indirectly) so you don’t pursue something that would have potentially made you a lot happier.  Then maybe you meet someone and you are expected to get married by a certain point. On the surface it seems like you’ve been making choices but you never really considered your options.

The reality is that most of us follow our programming, make “choices” from within that programming and wonder why things never change. This goes on for years until someone hits the dreaded mid-life crisis. If you are unhappy with circumstances in your life, chances are that you have been blindly following some program. If you’re unhappiness is temporary and fleeting, then it’s more likely that…

You Are Missing The Big Picture

The big picture idea is simple and applies to everyone no matter what the situation. You’re going to die and there isn’t a thing you can do about it. And when you die—assuming you don’t invent something life changing or found a religion—it will take roughly two generations before no one remembers you at all. I can hear the pessimist response to this is: “Well fuck it, why don’t I just end it here and now?”  You know exactly why you haven’t taken your own life—because you still have feelings, desires, wants, and needs that you cannot just shake. It’s part of being human.

Life has almost no meaning in and of itself. You are born, get to kid around for a while, you hit puberty and then sex becomes your driving force. You may or may not reproduce, and then you die. Everything else in between is whatever you want it to be—we all get the birthday cake, but we make it whatever flavor we want. By remembering this, you free yourself to do whatever you want knowing that it won’t matter in the long term. As long as you don’t intentionally hurt others, you are free to make yourself completely happy. Or you can live a life of service to others. The only thing that matters is that it brings you satisfaction and enjoyment.

Even though life means nothing, I place more value on it because I know it’s a one-shot deal. Life is too short for most shit. That shit includes obsessing over stupid drama, feelings of self-pity, holding grudges, sulking or not taking risks. All of those things leads to unhappiness and resentment. There is a countdown on your life—do you realize that? You cannot afford to waste time on bullshit that does not make you happy because when it’s done it’s done. Even people that believe in heaven do not want to die because although death is a guarantee, nothing else really is.

Your Self Worth Is Shit

The funny part about realizing that life is meaningless is that it immediately made me to want to create value. It’s like I realized I have the last diamond on earth and I’m in a bidding war with myself. If you’re unhappy and it’s none of the above causes, chances are you don’t believe you’re worth a damn thing.

Self-worth is a combination three things—your societal contributions, alignment with your life purpose, and the status of your relationships. Most of the depressed people I’ve met are lacking in one of those areas.

Self-worth cannot be faked—it comes from truly believing in your right to be alive and enjoy life. You get this feeling from building friendships, excelling at something that you love, and having deep relationships.  If you believe your sadness is natural, then fuck it—that’s how you’ll proceed and it will lower how you feel about everything around you– especially yourself. This becomes a downward spiral until you wake up one morning and you decide to take some buckshot mouthwash after you brush your teeth.

No One Loves Your Ass

And I mean really loves you. Not the gushy romantic love that lasts for two years and ends with people trying to take each other’s heads. I mean the type of love that that has been tested through the good, the bad and the downright fucked up. Your parents do not count. Neither do your siblings or anyone that has been conditioned since their birth (or yours) to show favor to you. They might make you feel good, but they don’t necessarily make you happy because you did nothing to deserve their love and favor. Forget all that nonsense about unconditional love. If you don’t have to earn something, you are likely to take it for granted.

You should have to earn and maintain the bonds of a person. This will ensure that you remain a righteous and productive human being. No one wants to be around a downer. If you don’t have any friends that you’ve known for more than a third of your life, been through shit with them that could have gotten you killed or arrested, gone through bouts where you haven’t spoken or had a serious fight, then don’t know what you’re missing. That’s real love and once you have it, it’s amazing how many days you look forward to just communicating with the people who’ve been in your life that long.