Find the Misery and Make a Rule

I recently listened to a podcast from Dr. Henry Cloud, where he presented a simple but powerful idea. When things aren’t going well in life, if we are struggling with feeling depressed or directionless, perhaps finding the source of the misery and making a rule about it is the best advice we can get.

Let me give you an example from my own life. I had a period of feeling anxious and overwhelmed this fall. I felt hopeless, fatigued, and generally depressed about much of life. I admit I spent more time being in this funk than I did doing anything about it. I almost wore it like a warm blanket that happens to be an old stinky horse blanket. It’s keeping me warm, but it stinks to high heaven.

After listening to his podcast, I spent an afternoon writing down my miseries and what I thought the misery was connected to. In almost every case, my misery stemmed from engaging in a behavior or belief that left me a victim. A big culprit was watching the news. I like to be informed about what is going on in the world so I can pray and also just be a good citizen and understand others. However, I had begun watching the news every night at length. Granted, I was watching from a variety of perspectives, but the end result was still the same–a lot of negative things are happening, and there is little I can do about them large scale. No wonder I was feeling depressed, hopeless, and tired! My behavior of inundating myself with negative news day in and day out without any ability to do anything about it was causing my emotional state. I had found the misery and the source!

My solution wasn’t to stick my head in the sand and pretend I lived on another planet. Instead, I made a rule. My rule is that I am only allowed to watch one hour of news each week and only on the weekend, and I subscribed to a news email list that provides one weekly highlight email covering the major issues on a global and national level. Because of the length, the news tends to be just the facts, minus the annoying opinion that seems to permeate all news these days.

The result is a peace that surpasses all understanding. I can be in the know and pray for God’s will in all the issues without getting so mired in the details that I can’t see God through the troubles. I do have a few things that I follow more closely because of the connection to my work and interests, but all others are relegated to live behind my rule. It works!

Where might you find some misery in your life? What rule might you make to reignite peace and joy?

Contributed by Liz Hunt

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