3 Counter-Intuitive Daoist Habits That Save Me From Depression Daily

There are days when depression creeps up on me like an unwelcome guest.

On these days, the easiest tasks feel like a huge challenge.

Getting out of bed seems impossible, and I just want to curl up in a ball and disappear.

Do you feel the same? Then this article is for you.

Fortunately, I’ve found solace in the teachings of Daoism, an ancient Chinese philosophy. Through the practice of three simple habits, I’ve been able to keep my depression at bay and lead a life full of joy and balance.

Accepting That Everything Is in Constant Change

My first habit is based on the Daoist concept of Yin and Yang. Most people know the idea of Yin and Yang. Basically, Yin symbolizes the negative, dark, and female, while Yang is positive, light, and male.

At first glance, they look like an opposing and contradictory couple, but they’re nevertheless codependent. And that is where it gets interesting.

Yin and Yang both rely on each other for existence.

They are interdependent and contain each other. Notably, the relationship between Yin and Yang isn’t set in stone.

They’re always moving and in a steady reversal. They’re flowing into each other.

How do I implement this teaching as a habit?
Everything white contains something black and vice versa. In our lives, this means there is not just “good” or “bad”. And both rely on each other for existence.

When anything bad in my life happens, I remember that it can turn out good in the future. And I always remind myself that it’s my choice to define whether something is negative or positive.

This perspective helps me accept that life is in a constant state of flux, and I don’t need to resist negative changes but rather adjust my attitude towards them. It gives me the courage to face any situation with an open heart and trust that it is eventually going to work out best for me.

I also made it a habit to intentionally remind myself daily that everything around me is in constant change and nothing is static.

This helps me accept the fact that whatever I’m going through right now won’t last forever and it will eventually pass. This understanding has taken away a lot of my suffering, helped me appreciate the present moment, and calmed my mind. I even started embracing the constant change of things.

Why is it so effective?
This habit is based on the idea that nothing stays the same. It helps you develop a healthy relationship with impermanence. It always reminds you that everything has an expiry date and that it’s only temporary - even your pain and suffering.

This makes it easier for you to accept life’s struggles, take them as they come, and move on.

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Achieve a Harmonious Life by Balancing Yin and Yang
What is the best way to achieve harmony and balance in our lives? According to Daoism, it’s found through balancing Yin and Yang. Here’s how.

Stopping All Actions

The next habit derives from the Daoist concept of Wu Wei. It is, in essence, the act of non-acting.

I know. At first, this sounds counter-intuitive. Especially in a society that’s bent on side hustles and relentless productivity. Yet this idea doesn’t mean you should sit around doing nothing. Far from it.

The principle of Wu Wei dictates that to achieve the most desired outcome, sometimes it is best to take no action at all.

How do I implement this teaching as a habit?
I created a habit to take some time out of my day - no matter how busy I am - and just let go of all my thoughts, worries, and expectations. Obviously, “just” letting go is harder in the beginning. But it gets easier with time.

This helps me slow down and just observe my environment and my thoughts without judgment. I take a few deep breaths, let go of any emotions that come up, and stay present in the moment.

Why is it so effective?
Most of us usually do the complete opposite of this habit. We keep thinking about the next step and how to achieve our goals.

We worry so much that it starts hurting us.

Implementing such a practice helps you relax, observe without judgment, and take action only when you’re sure. All of which leads to better decision-making, improved focus, and increased success in your life.

On top of that, it helps you create a mental space between yourself and whatever is happening in the world around you. And it also allows you to reflect on your thoughts and feelings so that you can approach any situation with a calmer mindset.

Being Spontaneous

Spontaneity is at the heart of Daoism as this philosophy is built on the principle of natural flow. Daoism is all about achieving balance with the Dao, which is the fundamental concept everything stems from.

In the Daoist world, nothing is planned or forced, as it’s all about allowing change to take its course.

Spontaneity allows you to be open and responsive to the world around you. Allowing yourself to find joy in each moment, instead of trying to control the outcome, is a great way to ward off depression.

How do I implement this teaching as a habit?
I’m a strategic and analytical person. I organize and plan every step in my calendar. But I always keep some free time in my schedule for spontaneity. I take, for example, 10 minutes each day and just enjoy the present moment. I don’t think about what’s next or plan any activities.

I’ve also created a habit of being spontaneous and doing something out of the ordinary every once in a while. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, it can be something as simple as trying out new food or going to a place I’ve never been before.

Diversifying my routine often and experiencing new things helps me keep a fresh perspective. It also reminds me that life can be unpredictable and it’s crucial to seize opportunities for enjoyment while I can.

Why is it so effective?
Life can get very hectic and overwhelming. It’s easy to fall into a routine that doesn’t bring any joy or satisfaction, which affects your health in the long term. Being spontaneous helps you stay present in the moment and enjoy what it has to offer.

It serves as a reminder that you don’t always must be in control of every situation and that life will still work out if you let go, embrace the natural flow, and do something spontaneous occasionally. It broadens your horizons and feeds your creative side.

Having an open mind helps you stay curious and live with intention, which is vital to staying positive and motivated.

Summary and Conclusion

Here’s a quick recap of the three teachings and habits:

  • Cultivating the Yin and Yang principle helps you develop a healthy relationship with impermanence.
  • Fostering non-action (Wu wei) helps you slow down, observe without judgment, and take action only when necessary.
  • Nurturing spontaneity allows you to be open and responsive to the world around you.

I hope my three Daoist habits help you find the balance and peace you are looking for. Remember to be gentle with yourself, and trust that you will find your way back into the light. All it takes is a little practice and consistency.