By Valerie Minard
Blue Monday, the third Monday in January, has been touted as the most depressing day of the year. Initially it was promoted as an advertising scheme by a travel company to induce more travel. They derived the date using an equation that factored in such variables as weather conditions, financial debt, failed New Year’s resolutions, time since Christmas, and levels of motivation. Although completely arbitrary, the date has gained a momentum of its own and reflects growing concern over mental health issues.
But not everyone is buying into this. One UK website, “National Awareness Days,” which lists special days around the world, headlines the date with “Beat the Monday Blues!” Blue Monday, they say, ”is a special day for people to focus on doing good for each other,” hinting at the idea that acts of kindness not only lift the recipient, but also benefit the giver.
Some researchers, like self-improvement author and psychologist Dr. Wayne Dyer, have observed an important correlation between happiness and acts of kindness. Dyer even notes that these behaviors have health benefits, increasing levels of serotonin— a natural mood enhancer or antidepressant. According to Dyer, serotonin levels created by the body, not only increase in anyone who gives or receives kindness, but even in anyone who witnesses such acts.
But the question still remains: where do the impulse to give and the resulting happiness come from? Spiritual author and theologian Mary Baker Eddy, attributes them to a divine source. In her book, Science and Health with key to the Scriptures, she writes, “Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love (God). It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.” So if happiness, kindness, and unselfishness are spiritual, wouldn’t that mean they are not dependent on bio-chemistry but are available to everyone all the time?
The Bible tells us that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (KJ, James 1:17) God, being our divine Parent, giving us all good, would imply that happiness and unselfishness are innate qualities naturally expressed by us, and that they are based in divine Love. An act of unselfish love naturally dispels fear and brings an appreciation of goodness, which eliminates depression or sadness. When we are expressing love, we are feeling love. When we are feeling love, we are uplifted and negativity is displaced.
That’s what happened to me one holiday time many years ago. I was down in the dumps and feeling sorry for myself since it looked like I was going to be alone. Everyone I knew was visiting family, my mom had recently passed on, and the streets of the college town I lived in were already looking quite desolate. But then it occurred to me there was someone I could help—a home-bound senior woman who didn’t get many visitors. We shared a happy day together. The act of giving and receiving her joy took my thought off of myself and lifted me out of those doldrums.
So just because it’s January, or a Monday, or in fact any day, there is a way to beat the blues. Happiness is spiritual and as close as your open hand. Find a way to do something unselfish. It will not only benefit others but bring you joy!
Valerie writes regularly on the connection between consciousness, spirituality, and health. She is a Christian Science practitioner and the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in New Jersey. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or @valerieminard.