Q: I see it happening all around us that as we grow older, depression becomes a natural emotion within all of us, and takes a toll on human beings. How do we adjust to this situation which is inevitable and happening all the time?

Sadhguru: Once you declare that depression is a natural process, there is no way out. When you were a child, being joyful was natural to you, not being depressed. So do not declare that depression is natural.

Depression means you are unable to maintain the exuberance of life in you. It happens even in your body. If you are depressed, even the physical body flops. Life within you is not exuberant – it has just gone down and lost its exuberance because you are not doing the right thing with it. You are imposing too much outside nonsense upon the inside. You have not done anything to keep your life energies high.

The Source of Depression

Depression is a kind of agony. If you have become agony and not ecstasy, it is because a large part of your life energy is happening compulsively, not consciously. It is happening as a reaction to external situations. Once you are happening compulsively, becoming depressed is very normal, because external situations are never hundred percent in your control. There are so many things happening in the world; if you compulsively react, getting lost and becoming miserable is natural. The more exposed you are to life, the more miserable you will become.

Depression means you are unable to maintain the exuberance of life in you.

When people are unable to handle life outside, they try to curtail their life and withdraw. But even that goes out of control, doesn’t it? There is one part of you which is constantly seeking expansion – you want to constantly increase the boundaries and areas of your activity. There is another part of you which is getting depressed every time something does not go the way you think it should go. Getting depressed is subject to the non-fulfillment of your expectations.

If the stock market gets depressed today, so many people will get depressed. Many of them may never have even touched that money, but every day they were watching the graphs rising and their mood was in ascendancy. Now they see the graph falling, so their mood is falling. It is just that what they expected to happen, did not happen.

Fixing the Inside

People can cause depression in their mood in so many ways. If you take away what they think is precious, they become depressed. The tragedy with a lot of people, especially in affluent societies, is that they have everything and yet they have nothing. Depression means somewhere, a certain hopelessness has set in. If you go to some very poor village in India, they are really impoverished, but you will see joyful faces because they have hope – it is going to be better tomorrow. In affluent societies that hope is gone. Depression has set in because everything that can be used externally has been fixed. There is food, there is housing, there is clothing, there is everything, but still there is something wrong. They just do not know what.

A poor man may think, “Tomorrow, if I get a new pair of footwear, everything will be fine.” If he gets a new pair of footwear, he will walk like a king with great joy on his face because he has hope; the outside is not yet fixed. In affluent societies, the outside is fixed, but the inside is not fixed, so there is hopelessness and depression.

As we work on the outside, we must also fix the inside. Then the world would be beautiful. What we call as a spiritual process is just this – not just fixing the objective aspect of your life but taking care of the subjectivity of who you are. If that is not taken care of, you will have everything, and you will have nothing.

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Sadhguru’s 2-in-1 book “Emotion: The Juice of Life & Relationships: Bond or Bondage”, available on Flipkart and Amazon.