When people digest what I went through – a traumatic car accident, the near-death experiences, a long hospitalization and permanent paralysis – they are curious about whether I was ever depressed and it if so, what did I do about it.

The fact is, I tell them, that even if my ordeal was no picnic by any stretch and while I did go through the gamut of emotion, I never fell to depression because whenever I felt myself slip into the blues, I immediately did something to counteract it.

I tell people about Alice Walker - who wrote the book The Color Purple and how she wrote that it is impossible to be depressed if you are working to change.

In fact, depression is an unwillingness to move forward so the key to self-empowerment is
doing what you love. If the pursuit of happiness is your beacon for change, it will attract you where you want to be and allow you to avoid pitfalls like depression.

When I’m asked for tips on self-empowerment, the following are at the top of my list:

1. Eliminate any resistances to claiming power by examining what is limiting you or what situations get you to react negatively. We often resist what we most need to learn. The next time you find yourself avoiding something, or reacting negatively to a situation, ask yourself: “What is bothering me about this?” and “What do I need to learn here?”

2. Stop worrying about what others think! The purpose of self-empowerment is to do away with the NEED to be esteemed by others. It's easy to be preoccupied about what the other person is thinking, doing, saying, etc. This kind of worrying is useless as it wastes time and energies that are better spent on improving yourself.

3. Take care of your “unfinished business”. Most of us have unfinished business, that is - unresolved failures, soured relationships or important tasks left undone. Getting beyond these issues is not always easy but there's a 3-step process: (1) Acknowledge it, (2) Apologize to anyone you've wronged by asking: "What can I do to make this right?" and - (3) Move on from it - as crying over spilled milk is kind of pointless.

4. Learn to open yourself up to greater possibilities. There is more than one way to solve a problem. Every cloud has a silver lining. It’s always darkest before the dawn. These sayings remind us that we’re most likely to get "stuck" when we foreclose options and set up conditions for failure with our expectations, fears and prejudices.

5. Take it one step at a time - from wherever you happen to be. Think about it - here and now are the only place and time we CAN start from. So begin where you are at the moment and decide to claim power. Then examine what gives you joy and move forward from there.

If you consider the real challenges that we must now face to build a world we can leave to our children, then there is little option but to pursue the road less traveled… the one that leads to personal power.