Atheism is Depressing; so is Agnosticism; so is Religion

(Ninth in a Series on Fighting Depression)

I’m not knocking atheists. Some of the smartest people I know are atheists. A lot of them have high sensitivity and empathy too. It’s just that believing there’s no creator, no one who cares about the universe, no destiny, no afterlife – yikes. No amount of prosac could cheer me up with that worldview.

Agnosticism isn’t much better. There may or may not be a God, is a position with a little more humility; it doesn’t claim omniscience. But still, depressing. Not knowing if there is or isn’t a creator who cares, destiny, afterlife – that’s a quagmire.

Religions – those theologies and behavior codes that set us up for divine approval – those are the most depressing of all, because we can’t measure up. If getting to obedience or holiness or enlightenment is up to me, I’ll fail. I can’t even focus long enough to get the clothes into the dryer, let alone follow long paths or hold up heavy pillars or keep crushing commandments.

So what’s a good world view for depressive types?

I’ve taken a long time to think about this. Here’s what I’ve found to be the most cheerful and logical world view:

  1. Good is better than bad. We just have this wiring, even when it doesn’t make sense for the survival of the species. Kindness is better than evil, compassion is better than brutality, love is better than apathy. So if that’s how humans are wired, it follows that something or someone good created us. There has to be goodness and love at the heart of the universe.
  2. Personality is a real thing. No human is a replica of any other human. Even my identical twins have such different spirits that I could tell one baby from another with the lights off. So it follows that our creator is some kind of person. We’re created and sustained by a good person with loving intentions.
  3. Something has gone wrong. Duh, no need for elaboration there.
  4. If there is a loving creator, that person would want to rescue us from evil and suffering.
  5. If a good God wanted to rescue us, there would be a reliable record of some kind of Messiah showing up in a way everyone could understand. That being would have to demonstrate divine love and power, and do nothing wrong. Yeah, you know where this is going.
  6. Jesus checks all the boxes. Yes, following Jesus makes me much happier than atheism, agnosticism or religion.

It’s worth a try. Jesus said, “Come, follow me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I’ll give you rest.” (That’s in Matthew 11:28 in the Bible.)

Buying into Jesus’ rescue story has improved my life immesurably. I have found following Jesus to be the best way through and beyond depression.

Homework: If it were true that God loved you and had come to rescue you from evil and suffering, how would that change your schedule this week? Give that altered schedule a try. See what happens.

Anything helpful to add? Click on the title, then scroll to comment after the article. For the first post in this series, click here.

Ugly is Depressing – the Importance of Bringing Beauty into Your Living Space

“The way my place looks doesn’t have any effect on me. I don’t care; it’s just where I crash.”

I’ve heard quite a few people say things like that. I don’t believe them.

You can’t sever sensing from feeling. Everything we see, touch, smell, hear and taste affects our emotions. When I see a picture of a puppy playing, I feel happier than when I see a picture of an animal being hurt. When I smell lavendar, I enjoy that a lot more than smelling garbage. So it goes. Surroundings matter to humans.

Ask Yourself Some Emotion Questions

Go into the room where you sleep and look around. Do you like the look of the walls? Do the sheets smell clean? Are there any annoying sounds? Rate the room on a scale of 1 (ugly and uncomfortable) to 10 (beautiful and comfy). Do that for all the rooms you live in.

If your numbers are low, you can do some things to feel better in your space.

I know, there’s that pesky issue of money for most of us, but cleaning is cheap, and so are some of the other changes that will boost your mood.

My sister runs an interior design business, Rusty Fig Redesign, and she specializes in repurposing, rearranging and reorganizing the stuff people already have to make it a more beautiful, more functional space. When people come back to their homes at the end of the day for the ‘big reveal’ -to see their redesigned spaces, they are always delighted. Some of them even cry with joy. They often say things like, “I can’t believe I get to live here.”

Ask Yourself Some Sensory Questions

Granted, my sister is especially gifted at this, but anyone can do something to improve their space. Any small improvement gives you an emotional lift. So try asking yourself some questions:

  • Start with one room. Think about all the uses for that room. If it’s a bedroom, you may list sleeping, resting, reading and dressing. Ask yourself, “Do I have what I need to be comfortable while I do all these things? You might need a new mattress, or a big pillow to lean against when you read in bed. You might need a standing lamp next to your closet so you can see to get dressed in the morning. If you can’t buy new stuff, be sure you’re making the best use of what you have.
  • Is there enough light in the room overall, or too much? You might need room-darkening curtains to sleep better, new lighting to see clearly, or to move things you’ve put in front of windows so you have a better view.
  • Look at the colors of walls, floors and objects. Do they look good next to each other or are their some clashes you don’t like? Would you like the room better if you painted it a different color? If you’re starting a room from scratch, try picking three to five colors that really look good together, and stick to them when you shop.
  • Are there any plants in the room? Plants bring life into a room (as long as you water them!) and they improve the air quality.
  • Are there any pieces of furniture or objects that give you a bad vibe? Seriously, sometimes we keep things because we inherited them or they’re a gift, or we spent a lot on them, and to be honest, we just don’t like them. Do you think of your mean great aunt every time you look at that vase? Lose the vase. Did you buy a modern side table that looked great in the store but just doesn’t look right with your other furniture? Maybe it needs moving to another room, or another home altogether?
  • How much stuff is in the room? If there’s a lot, do you like all of it, or would you enjoy more openspace? Edit out things you don’t use or like. Some people are most comfortable with a lot of stuff out on surfaces. That’s fine, but if you feel better with clear surfaces, its time to make some piles – Keep, Sell, Give Away and Throw Away.

Are there some things in the room that you enjoy? Maybe a scented candle, a framed certificate of an achievement you’re proud of, a soft throw blanket that makes TV viewing super-comfy? Comfort and beauty are different for everyone; my husband thinks his racing bike looks great in the dining room!

One More Way to Fight Depression

Obviously, great design isn’t the cure for depression. Lots of miserable people live in gorgeous mansions.

However, life is just more pleasant when you walk in to a room you’ve fixed up. It also gives you a little more energy and confidence to make other changes to improve your life. So, paying attention to the surroundings where you spend a lot of your time is one great way to fight depression.