I wanted to tell you about what happened to a Happy Guide reader called Matt because it’s a great case study, showing how quickly things can turn around.
It shows what’s possible when you start giving your body what it needs!
Here’s what happened…
We first heard from Matt when he left this comment on Mike’s unwanted thoughts article…
Today I realized how out of control my mind has become. Over the last few months It feels as though I’ve lost control of my thoughts and I’ve slowly slipped into the beginning of a deep depression. I spent much of my teenage years in that rut so I don’t want to go back. Somehow I got over that, but it took years. I can feel the darkness once again and it is almost enough to make me want to knock myself out and not wake back up.
Reading what you have said on how to stop the problem has given me that hope that I can stop it before it destroys me again. I was doing exactly what you said not to do to try and stop it. I was so terrified I was going to get taken down again and this time not get out. Just seeing how I am suppose to help myself in print makes it a lot easier for me to believe that it can actually help me. You and your website and the methods you explain are my weapon against my unwanted thoughts. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Matt, 29 August
Although I was pleased that Matt had found the article so helpful, I was well aware that in terms of lifestyle, everything affects everything else. This was just one of the six lifestyle elements for a happy, healthy life.
I knew he would need to get his biochemistry right if he was going to see the back of depression for good. So I emailed him, and Matt has kindly allowed us to post the resulting conversation here…
Thanks for your kind comment on the Unwanted Thoughts article. The most important thing you can ever know is that feeling good comes from getting your biochemistry right — and you do that by making health a priority.
Knowing how to reclaim your mind, so that you’re not identified with your thoughts is very important. But it’s just one element of a happy, healthy life. There are six lifestyle elements that need your attention — and they all affect each other.
You said you’ve felt the darkness descend on you again recently — so let’s nip it in the bud NOW. First of all, here’s how to beat depression permanently…
Let’s get you on the fast track to permanent health and happiness. Download our eBook Happy Guide. It’s the result of 20 years passionate research and experience, and will lay everything out for you…
Step 1 is to read Happy Guide and “own” the information. People who just “run with it” get happy pretty quick :-) So please give it a thorough read, cover to cover. We’ve spent a long time getting it short, powerful and effective.
Step 2 is to implement the Happy Guide lifestyle a little bit at a time, using the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ habit techniques provided.
If you want to not only avoid depression and swirling thoughts, but wake up BEAMING and feeling on top of the world, jus RUN with everything in Happy Guide — it’ll do the business for you.
Keep in touch Matt and let us know how you’re doing.
James, 30 August
Thank you so much! I really do appreciate this. I refuse to let myself become depressed and lose control of my mind. I will keep in touch with you.
Matt, 30 August
You’re very welcome Matt. That’s great, you have a good positive attitude so you’re starting out with an advantage :-) If you have any questions as you go through Happy Guide, ask away. When you put the causes of health and happiness in place, you’ll be amazed how good you can feel… Yep — keep in touch.
James, 30 August
Hey James, over the last few days I’ve been making a lot of progress. I’ve noticed a huge difference just by getting out and walking for 30 minutes every day. The only thing I’m having a problem with is living in the moment, I have to constantly remind myself to keep my attention on the present, hopefully that will fade over time if i stay persistent.
Besides that I’ve been eating better and trying to regulate my sleeping more. I am so thankful and happy that Mike put the happy guide together. I could not imagine my life being anywhere close to how it was when I used to be in the darkness, the thought of ending it being ever present in my head was unexplainable… it bring tears to my eyes just thinking about it. I don’t know how I got to that point before or how I almost got there again but it will never happen again and I have you guys to thank.
Matt, 1 September
That’s wonderful… your attitude is first-class. The steps you’ve taken have put you on a very firm footing. Keep it going and you’re going to feel better and better.
Don’t worry that you’re finding “living in the moment” tricky. It IS tricky because thoughts are powerful and habitual. But you’ve already hit the nail on the head — persistence is the quality that’s required. It may take a while but then, bringing yourself into the present moment will become effortless, and then it will become your natural state.
When you’re there, you will be able to see thoughts arising. Then you will have the power to decide if that thought is meaningless junk or helpful to you. But you’ve already made great strides Matt. Just knowing that you are not your thoughts, and having spells during the day when you are in the moment is fantastic progress.
As you become healthier you’ll love the present moment more and more :-) And then you’ll be amazed you were ever depressed. In fact, you’re already to starting to say this now…
We’re delighted for you Matt, and you’re very welcome. Keep it going now — bed in those new happiness-making habits and wave goodbye to the darkness :-) Keep us posted.
James, 1 September
The hardest part of all this the changing of moods in a day. Sometimes I’m incredibly happy and then sometimes I feel down and my mind racing around. Any tips or insight about this? Maybe how to more effectively deal with those down moments?
Matt, 2 September
You’re making great progress and it’s normal that you’ll feel up and down for a while. The fact that you felt the onset of depression shows a dysfunctional biochemistry — that your physiology was under pressure. You’re making excellent progress but it’ll take a while for your body to “gear up” to the new diet and lifestyle.
Right now, have faith in the finish line. KNOW that before long, you’re going to feel good all the time. What you’re going through now is a transitional period. THIS is the hard part. Actually being happy and healthy is almost effortless, once the new habits are bedded in and your biochemistry has fully adjusted to the new lifestyle.
The most important thing is to stick with it — because all the thinking and analysis has been done for you, over the last 20 or so years. If you run with Happy Guide “as is”, you’ll be happy and healthy.
By the way, grains and dairy food are not natural human foods, so if they’re still a part of your diet, I would recommend eliminating them completely — at least until you’re feeling good all the time. There are all kinds of complications and problems associated with these foods, depression included.
Keep it going Matt, you’re already feeling good sometimes, if you stick with it, you’ll find the “ups” get longer and longer and the “downs” get shorter and shorter. Know that it’s ok to feel down sometimes, because it’s just a temporary phase. Just let that feeling “be”, don’t judge it or get frustrated with it.
Keep getting to bed on time — sleep is so important anyway, but you may find you need to sleep a little longer as your body detoxes and adjusts to the new diet and lifestyle.
When you feel your mind racing, just watch the thoughts, just “listen” as Mike calls it in Happy Guide. Just let those thoughts come and go, without judgement, and follow the meditation advice in Happy Guide. You’ll find your mind becomes clearer and clearer.
James, 3 September
I try to tell my fiance all the time that dairy is terrible for the human body, even before I read about it in the happy guide, but that’s a whole other battle, hah. Would it be fine or counter productive if I saw a therapist to help sort through things in my head?
Matt, 4 September
Please feel free to open up Matt. In fact the more I know, the more I can help. What’s on your mind — what are the things in your head?
If you’d rather see a therapist, please see it as supplementary to following Happy Guide, not an alternative. Lifestyle is everything. You’re at a key stage right now because you need to have faith that following through will get you to where you want to be — happy and healthy. It will but you might not fully believe that yet, as your body is still adjusting.
Going back to the dairy issue — this is a big one. I’d strongly advise getting off dairy completely, it’s a problem food for many people and it could be that you’re particularly sensitive. If that’s the case, you’re not going to feel good until you eliminate it.
If you need to explain this to your fiance, it’s a conversation worth having, because your happiness is at stake. You could go and get an intolerance test but it’s best just to stay off dairy completely, so you can be sure you’re not adding extra stress to your body.
James, 4 September
One of the constant things on my mind is that I worry and I guess almost fear the passing of time, the ending of things I enjoy, and wonder what’s the point of trying to make something out of my self If one day I’ll end up passing away. I use to be so excited for weekends to come but now I dread them because I don’t think I will enjoy anything I do or that I will just fear it ending.
Matt, 5 September
We’re all going to pass away one day — us, our children, and their children. That’s neither good nor bad. It just IS :-)
Worrying about things that are beyond our control is futile, and robs our joy of the present moment. The irony is that when you’re happy, you don’t fear or worry about the END of happiness. When you have a sense of life flowing through you, you don’t worry about it coming to an end. Strange but true.
By worrying about not enjoying the weekend, you rob yourself of the joy of “being” right now. Your worrying about the passing of time is a clear indication that you’re not enjoying your current time. It feels wasted, to some extent, so you fear running out of time to “get happy”.
Of course, the irony is that this worry is a part of what’s taking you away from happiness.
By “making something out of yourself” I presume you mean having money and status? You will not find happiness on the other side of these things Matt. Financial security is important of course, to avoid worry, but beware chasing the idea of “success” and “getting on”. Mike and I have known millionaires who are desperately miserable. Go here for a quick article on this…
You sound very much like Mike and me when we were younger. Intelligent but sensitive. People like us tend to have the greatest potential, but struggle with the world as we try to “cover all the bases” mentally. THAT is a recipe for misery because it can’t be done…
The “Live in the Moment” chapter of Happy Guide is very important for you Matt. It will help you escape the torment of being dragged along by thought after thought after thought.
You must appreciate that YOU are not your thoughts, and that many of them do NOT serve your best interests, and are simply not required. In fact, not only are they not required, they will rob you of the joy of the present moment.
Happiness comes from having health and peace of mind. That’s it. You get healthy by living the right lifestyle and you get peace of mind by getting organized and knowing how to live in the moment (ie. not living in your head, not worrying about things).
Use the technique in the “Break Bad Habits” chapter to keep your mind OFF thoughts that do not serve you. In short, see them as unhelpful, as unimportant, and then distract your attention back to what you were doing when the thought popped up. No importance–distract. But you cannot do this until you recognise that a thought is NOT helpful to you.
The fact that you’re “afraid” of not getting the most out of your weekends speaks volumes… it means you don’t want the week to start…
What do you do Monday to Friday Matt?
James, 5 September
During the week I go to school. Morning classes on Monday and Wednesday, night classes on Tuesday and Thursday, and no Friday classes this semester. When I start feeling happy the thought of school comes into my mind and drains the happy feelings…but the thing is I honestly do not dread school, for the most part I enjoy learning. The work load is very manageable.
I have a roof over my head that I don’t pay rent for and my family just wants me to concentrate on school so I don’t need a job. I really don’t understand why I am not happy when there is no reason for me not to be.
Would it help if I knew when all this started?
Matt, 5 September
Matt, I’m really excited about where you’re at, because you’re absolutely ripe for this information…
Your head is looking for a reason that you’re unhappy… something nice and clinical and logical… something to do with your life circumstances.
There are many people doing the same thing except maybe they’ve identified one ‘thing’ that they believe will make them happy. “I’ll be happy when I’ve got that promotion” … “I’ll be happy when I’ve moved house” … “I’ll be happy when I’ve met someone”.
But happiness is NOT the other side of any one of these things. There’s nothing wrong with any of these aims of course, but happiness is PRIMARY. It doesn’t depend on any LIFE CIRCUMSTANCE. It flows directly from having a healthy body and peace of mind.
I love this Charles Schulz quote…
“MY LIFE HAS NO PURPOSE, NO DIRECTION, NO AIM, NO MEANING, AND YET I’M HAPPY. I CAN’T FIGURE IT OUT. WHAT AM I DOING RIGHT?”
This proves that you don’t need things, achievements and “success” in its traditional meaning. What Charles unwitting created was a life where he had health and peace of mind. He found he was happy as a result — he just hadn’t connected the dots.
All you need to know Matt is what to do be happy — and HOW to put it into practice.
I know your mind is desperately looking for a “hook” to hang your unhappiness on. I know, because I’ve been exactly where you are now and done exactly the same thing…
But trust me Matt — the answer is that your biochemistry is out of whack. How well do you think your car would run if you put diesel into it instead of regular gas? Your body is just like that, except the problem is worse — because while your car will cough, splutter and conk out pretty quickly, your body will eat into its vitality reserves to KEEP YOU GOING.
But you’re going to feel a long long long way from your best if you’re not checking those health boxes, plus you’re storing up trouble for the future… Our bodies require daily nutrition, enough sleep, water, and they need to be moved (exercise).
When you give your body what it needs Matt, you’re going to feel better and better. You’ve already made a start on this and you told me you started to feel better.
All you need to do is KEEP IT GOING! Trust me Matt because I’ve been there. And I KNOW this is the answer.
There are two ways we can go — you can work through Happy Guide and keep step step stepping to your healthy lifestyle finish line on your own, or I can personally guide you through your steps, by email. I’m happy to do if you’d like — just let me know.
James, 6 September
I really do appreciate the Happy Guide but some things about it I don’t know if I am willing to do. Back before this depression stuff started I found a lot of happiness and good times staying up with friends and just kicking it. Going to bed at the same time every night and putting my life on a schedule makes life seem kind of like a pattern. I’m not trying to talk bad against the Happy Guide but that’s what’s going on in my head.
Do you believe in god? and an afterlife? If these questions are to personal don’t worry about answering them.
Matt, 7 September
There’s nothing wrong with staying up with friends and kicking it sometimes :-) Happy Guide isn’t about never doing anything “bad” again… I usually have a take-out on a Friday and I have a couple of beers when I meet up with friends (although that’s not as regular as when I was in my twenties).
Mike also doesn’t live like a monk :-)
It always surprises people that we’re not health “fanatics”. It’s what you do most of the time that matters — what your daily habits are. If you were partying every night, your body would not be able to cope with that, and you’d start developing symptoms over time. Could be fatigue, could be depression, could be paranoia — the list of possible symptoms is endless…
What you want to do is get most of your days right. Monday to Friday especially you want to be taking daily exercise, having a fruit smoothie for breakfast, salad for lunch and mainly Happy Guide dinners. Then, you’ll probably find you can relax things a little at the weekend, and get away with it.
By get away with it, I mean NOT suffer depression or any other symptom of a body that’s under pressure…
Health is cumulative. You have gotten away with partying til late in the past, but it sounds like it’s caught up with you now. Remember, our vitality is a problem because it keeps us going even when we’re doing bad stuff to our bodies. Your lifestyle up to this point has led to bouts of depression and anxious thinking. These things don’t appear overnight for no reason. They are a reflection of your overall physiology.
Now you’re AWARE of that, you have a choice to carry on as you have been (but please be aware that your symptoms will almost certainly deepen, and occur more regularly). Or, you can make some healthier choices and get the benefit of feeling a lot better, and a lot happier, day to day. Ultimately of course, it is your choice — only you can decide how far you want to take it.
It’s not about never doing ANYTHING bad again :-) It’s just about knowing that the closer you get to the Happy Guide lifestyle, the better you will feel. But please be aware Matt that JUST eating unnatural foods such as grains and dairy can have a massive impact on your health and how feel — I would get rid of these as a priority, at least until you start feeling good on a regular basis again.
It’s also not about putting your whole life on a schedule. Ultimately it’s about being FREE and HAPPY.
Once you’re getting all the things your body needs, and you feel fantastic, you have this amazing freedom and “flow”. Life is to be enjoyed in the moment, spontaneously. That’s why one of the lifestyle elements is “get organized”. You simply cannot feel spontaneous and instinctive, when you are bogged down with “things to do” and clutter.
The idea is to get the necessary stuff , the “boring” stuff done, by making them habits. Then, you’re free to enjoy the resulting joy and happiness spontaneously, instinctively, in the moment.
You’re in a brilliant position now Matt because you know the answer to depression, anxiety and a thousand and one different symptoms of unhappiness… you’ll ALWAYS know how to be happy from now on.
I believe that God (or something) has set this universe in motion but I don’t believe in an “interventionist” God that judges or condemns, and I’m not a member of any religion. In any case, we create our own experience of life by our thoughts and actions. No-one else can make us happy. We must all take responsibility for our own health and happiness.
If you believe in God yourself, be aware that praying and “asking” is creative. Whether you believe in a God or universe that answers, or whether it’s pure psychology doesn’t matter too much. What DOES matter is what has your attention.
Your experience of life is a long list of moments — the sum total of what’s had your attention so far. So choose with your attention, and make choices that will make you happy not just now, but for the rest of your life.
James, 7 September
That makes me feel a lot more at ease about it. I really do love the Happy Guide and it really has helped me. In fact I am getting better and now I can see that, for example, today i noticed how my usual depression/anxiety did not get as deep as it usually does.
My diet has improved, though I will admit there where a couple of times I skipped over meals when I got in the worst of the depression. I have become a lot more active then I used to be. I’ve gotten organized and get things complete things I need to get done.
My only bad year was sophomore year of high school but besides that I don’t party, smoke, barely drank and don’t do any drugs. My diet was not very good though, that is for sure.
I was wondering… last time I went through this was during puberty and now I’m going through it again as I’m leaving the teenage phase of my life and entering adulthood, could the depression/anxiety be connected to hormone/chemical changes in my body?
I also do not follow an organized religion and I just stick with the belief in some form of greater power. The thought of an afterlife holds a lot of comfort though. Seems to be a common fear that everyone goes through in their life at some point. Just seeing that other people believe in a higher power helps to ease my thoughts.
I admire Mike and you a great deal for putting this guide together and helping other people that go through it. It’s amazing to know that you guys beat your darkness and share how you did it. It’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and that is it possible to beat it. The last thought I have when I get taken down is that there is a way out and I feel as though I will never rise out of it and that there is no point in getting out of it, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Does helping other people with their depression and other problems ever make you or Mike think about when you guys used to feel like this?
Matt, 8 September
This is wonderful, you’re making great progress. The important thing is to keep it going — you’ve made changes to quite a few of the 6 lifestyle elements already. Very well done sir!
Try not to skip meals — this will affect your blood sugar and mood. You want to keep that blood sugar pretty stable by eating regularly, this will keep you feeling better right through the day.
Diet is a big one… As a teenager I found school a real struggle. Anxiety, paranoia.. bouts of depression. And my diet was terrible when I look back on it now. White bread, crisps, chocolate, coke… You can’t feel on top of the world when you’re eating that day in, day out.
Yes, hormones are a factor and can certainly affect your mood. But you know what I’m going to say don’t you? :-) Even if this is a factor for you, it’s just one factor. If your hormones do make you feel low on any given day, you’ll feel a lot lower if your diet, sleep etc is also out of whack. Equally, if you’re very healthy, your hormones might only take the edge off your good mood, or not even affect your mood at all.
All these biochemical factors are cumulative — nothing in our body exists in isolation. How we feel at any given moment is the combined result of all these factors. So whatever else is going on in our lives, we give ourselves the best chance to be happy and feel good, if we’re checking those 6 lifestyle boxes.
On the subject of God and the afterlife, I’ve just started reading Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsh. Mike recommended it to me. The author claims he literally had a series of conversations with God. I’m only a little way in but it’s fascinating stuff… my cultural conditioning says “It can’t really be God… can it?”
But His answers (I guess I’d better use a capital H!) are extremely calm, authoritative and logical… but whichever way you look at it, it’s fascinating. Sounds like it’s a book you would appreciate. Mike has been interested in spirituality for many years and has a fantastic ability for unifying concepts from many different religious and spiritual backgrounds. When there’s time, I think he’ll do some more blog posts on this topic.
Thanks for your kind words, we certainly love what we’re doing. We receive positive feedback regularly and it makes this a very enjoyable “job” to do…
And you’re right that there is ALWAYS light at the end of the tunnel. I went through some troubled times as a teenager but Mike went through 13 years of HELL… he went about as low as it’s possible to get. Now he loves his life and loves what we’re doing. There are probably very few people who have experienced such a contrast of life as Mike. He saw every doctor and specialist under the sun… none of them helped him because they knew nothing about creating health.
In the end he healed himself. And thank God he did. But if Mike can recover, there is hope for everyone, almost no matter what their situation. Even people with final stage cancers have been know to heal and recover. We need to stop abusing our bodies and allow homeostasis to return. You have to work very hard to make your body break down. Yet everyone’s doing it…
When you’re down, life can seem hopeless, and pointless. This is where faith comes in. I don’t mean in a religious sense (although some find this comforting also), I mean faith in the “finish line”. Faith that when your body has done its housekeeping and got back “on top”, and is well rested, and well nourished — which doesn’t happen overnight of course — you will feel good again.
And you WILL feel good again. Because feeling good is the inevitable outcome of having health and peace of mind. If you haven’t experienced it, that takes a little faith. But it’s the truth.
If Mike can get from where he was to feeling good every day, it’s possible for everyone.
To answer your question, I very rarely revisit my darker days, and I very much doubt Mike does either. He mentions it only every now and then to highlight the futility of relying on the medical model to provide us health — because it can’t. Doctors are taught about disease. A doctor told us recently that in his 8 years of study to become qualified, he spent one afternoon on nutrition… He came to US to learn how to be healthy…
And now it’s all in Happy Guide, after 20 odd years of searching high and low for the answers and bringing it all together in a way that people can actually use.
I’d better sign off for now. You’re doing great Matt — keep up the good work!
James, 8 September
Thanks James =) I will keep in touch with you and will continue on. Thanks for helping me get through a lot of the stuff that was on my mind. I just want to share that I had a wonderful morning, I woke up with a great feeling and through the out the morning I was excited…I was actually excited for the weekend to come and to do things I love to do. I haven’t felt that in about a month. It’s like you guys said, my body is actually repairing my mind. If there is a heaven or some form of it, you and Mike are going there for sure. Thank you guys very much again!
Happy Matt =)
Matt, 8 September
You’re very welcome Matt, I’m delighted for you. You’re starting to get great feedback from your own body now, that’s wonderful… Yep — keep us posted on your progress, and don’t hesitate to ask if you need any help.
James, 8 September
I feel great today too! I really do. Even when I think about those thoughts they don’t do anything to me! I’m excited about stuff again.
Matt, 9 September
:-) That’s wonderful Matt, I’m so delighted for you!! Your improved energy and vitality is shining through, even by email :-) And you’ve got precious distance from your thoughts, instead of becoming them. I don’t want to be a damp squib but now’s an important time to keep your eye on the ball. Keep those new habits going!!
James, 9 September
Believe me I will keep it going. I’m never returning to that state.
Matt, 11 September
That’s wonderful Matt, your attitude is fantastic!
James, 12 September
So that was that!
Matt used Happy Guide to turn around his health and happiness in a very short space of time… And just yesterday, Mike received this email from him…
Hey Mike, I can honestly say I’m happy now. Once in a while I’ll have some unwanted thoughts but its improved 99%!
This semester of college has been very demanding but I find that I now enjoy going to school and learning. Anthropology for example use to make me feel like trash and feel insignificant when we studied all the different types of human ancestors and such. Now It is like it use to be and I love to gain the knowledge.
Today is my 20th birthday! And I feel good about it. Not afraid of getting older anymore.
You guys really helped me. You seriously did. Being able to talk to you and James and having you guys be able to hit each problem accurately and know how to fix it was amazing. I’ve actually told a lot of people about how you and the guide has helped me. My fiance followed the diet and got all the benefits you said a person would get.
Could you show James this email too please?
Thanks and hope you guys are doing great!
Happy Matt =)
P.S. I can’t believe how much this worked…
Matt, 29 September