As we get older, some individuals find that enjoying activities, or the people, places and things that were once very rewarding and enjoyable are just not pleasurable anymore. In fact, they just can’t find pleasure in life at all. The things that used to bring joy to their life no longer do. Those golf clubs sitting in that fancy bag were once the love of their life. Now they just stand guard in the corner of the garage collecting spider webs. That old classic sports car sitting next to them is another toy that just isn’t rewarding anymore. They often feel as if a thick fog has been put between them and the simple pleasures they once enjoyed.

Is This Depression?

What’s happened? Is this what depression feels like? Sigmund Freud described depression as melancholia, or a feeling of a loss expressed through sadness. But you aren’t exactly sad. You just have difficulty finding pleasure in life.

What you might be experiencing is Anhedonia. The insensitivity to pleasure or the incapacity for experiencing happiness. Research suggests that the brain’s reward center and neuron circuitry may have become insensitive to the objects or people, places and things that once activated them.

The Spread of Helplessness

Over the years, such things as anxiety, stress, mental and physical exhaustion and unhappiness may have reduced a sense of control over your life. Just like an infection, it can spread to other areas of the brain as well. A feeling of helplessness slowly takes over, affecting even small things that were once pleasant, like taking the dog for a walk after dinner.

This feeling has been going on for so long that it probably feels like a natural part of your life. Your thoughts tell you this must be how it feels to get old. This is not necessarily the case. But you can regain control over your life. 

Our Reward Center

The objective is to wake up the brain’s reward center and circuitry by choosing one small activity each day, or people, places or things, that once gave you joy. The idea is to rebuild your over-all sense of pleasure. Try to feel pleasure with that same thing again. Focus your thoughts on every detail about it that once gave you pleasure.

From Mindless to Mindfulness

Mindfulness teaches us to recognize and become aware of as many of the small details as you can that normally go un-noticed during our busy daily life. Our senses have been trained over the years to not pay attention to the little things. Our lives have become mindless. We eat our meals mindlessly. We drive to our jobs mindlessly. This has obviously taken its toll.

Be Good to Yourself

Begin to think in terms of giving yourself pleasure everyday. Be good to yourself. Instead of taking a quick shower, take a long, hot soak in the bathtub. Inhale the fragrance of the bubble bath. Feel the hot water soothing every inch of your body. Lay back and relax for ten or fifteen minutes. Become aware of how refreshed you feel. When you are finished dressing, give your dog a treat and watch him chew it. Be aware how he savors it. He eats mindfully, filling his senses with the flavor. I bet both of you would enjoy taking a walk just like you used to.

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

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