Probably the most useful advice I have heard when it comes to the whole sphere of cognitive discipline is from the musical ‘Passion’ by Sondheim.
There is a scene in which the sick Fosca is walking in a garden with her future lover, Giorgio. Fosca is obsessed with death and can think only about morbid things. She is terrified by her imagination. Giorgio listens to her describe her fears of death and then gives his solution. Here is the dialogue:
Giorgio: These thoughts are bad for you. You must concentrate
on everything around you that suggests life. These
trees, these flowers, the warm smell of the air –
Fosca: You make it sound so simple Captain. As if a flower
or a tree could somehow make one happy.
Despite Fosca’s complaint, Giorgio does have a point. I don’t think it is entirely superficial to agree with him in his prescription for depression.
So the only question is – how do you think happy thoughts when almost everywhere we are presented with sadness?
And my answer: I have absolutely no idea.
Think happy thoughts.