Resolution Podcast

S02E01: Ben Courson - Overcoming Depression

May 31, 2021 Resolution Season 2 Episode 1
S02E01: Ben Courson - Overcoming Depression
Resolution Podcast
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Resolution Podcast
S02E01: Ben Courson - Overcoming Depression
May 31, 2021 Season 2 Episode 1

Ben Bennett sits down with Ben Courson to talk about loss, hopelessness, and how we can truly overcome depression. They discuss how God brought Ben Courson hope and healing from depression through Biblical truths and psychological research. 

Ben Courson is the founder of Hope Generation. He has written two best-selling books, “Optimisfits” and “Flirting with Darkness.”  His TV show is broadcast in 180 countries, and his national radio show airs on over 500 stations. He has spoken across the globe, including an audience of 34,000 at Angel Stadium. 

Connect with Ben at and on Instagram @ben_courson

Subscribe to Ben’s Hope Generation YouTube:

Visit the Resolution Movement website:

Follow us on Instagram @resolutionmovement

Show Notes Transcript

Ben Bennett sits down with Ben Courson to talk about loss, hopelessness, and how we can truly overcome depression. They discuss how God brought Ben Courson hope and healing from depression through Biblical truths and psychological research. 

Ben Courson is the founder of Hope Generation. He has written two best-selling books, “Optimisfits” and “Flirting with Darkness.”  His TV show is broadcast in 180 countries, and his national radio show airs on over 500 stations. He has spoken across the globe, including an audience of 34,000 at Angel Stadium. 

Connect with Ben at and on Instagram @ben_courson

Subscribe to Ben’s Hope Generation YouTube:

Visit the Resolution Movement website:

Follow us on Instagram @resolutionmovement

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Ben Bennett (00:00):

Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Resolution Podcast. Ben Bennett here, and I am so pumped for today's

episode. I have my friend Ben Courson with me, and we'll be talking about overcoming depression. And

let me just tell you about Ben real quick. He is a best-selling author, a TV and radio personality, an

international speaker, founder of the Hope Generation, which is absolutely a sick movement and the

senior pastor at Applegate Christian Fellowship. And let me keep going. His TV show, it just gets better,

his TV show is broadcast in 180 countries and his national radio show airs on over 500 stations. Plus let

me add a personal note. His recent book, Flirting with Darkness, absolutely killer. It's a must read for

anyone facing depression. Ben, dude, thanks so much for being with me today.

Ben Courson (00:56):

I'm so excited. So this is your first episode. I'm the lead off hitter. I feel so happy about this. I'm just so

honored, dude. And we've been friends through texting, so it's nice that we are actually going to have a

full blown conversation. Sometimes I forget that we're even being filmed or recorded and I think those

make the best ones. So I'm honored to be part of this.

Ben Bennett (01:17):

Yeah, hopefully we're just taking our texts and our voice memos and then translating it for people to

hear, dude.

Ben Courson (01:25):

Well, we were both fans of emo screamo, hardcore, post-hardcore. We're both Thomas Nelson authors

now and it's just pretty cool. We both speak. We both have just such a heart for this generation and

intelligent hope. And I think it's really cool that God for forged and formed this friendship.

Ben Bennett (01:44):

Dude, it's been crazy. And both our names begin with Ben. You can't make this stuff up.

Ben Courson (01:49):

I know. We don't need Ben and Jerry's, man. The sweetness is in the Ben and Ben, that's what we're

going for.

Ben Bennett (01:55):

The double Ben, the Ben squared.

Ben Courson (01:58):

The Ben squared. I'm stoked, dude. Thank you for having me.

Ben Bennett (02:03):

Thank you. I so appreciate you. And just how you're leading and putting before so many people this

topic of mental health and helping de-shame it and we really need to do that. And let me just say, as we

get into this, this topic of depression is so near and dear to my heart after years of struggling with it off

and on, finding healing. And I know for you, you've been through it too. It is something that you've

struggled with, but found so much healing and freedom from, and you have so much wisdom on the

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topic. So as we get started, I just wanted to ask, will you start with sharing when depression began in

your life and what that experience has been like throughout the years?

Ben Courson (02:51):

So when I was 18 years old, I read a book called A Grief Observed by somebody we both love, C. S.

Lewis. And I knew then that I had clinical depression. Later I got diagnosed with OCD and complex posttraumatic

stress disorder, but a lot of my depression was psychological. And then there were certain

facets that were part and parcel of an environmental melancholia. For example, my brother died and my

sister died. I went through a romantic heartbreak, tried to kill myself a few times, a pastor friend of mine

committed suicide. You just start going through stuff that makes you think like I would have these panic

attacks. And I thought I'm never going to be able to get healed mentally and God healed me. He healed

me. He's so good. And my message for people is if God could heal me, he can heal anybody. He can heal


So it started 18, went to 28. I had a few years where I was just ridiculously joyful. At that point I

wrote Optimisfits during that season. A bunch of crazy friends with their skateboards came into my life,

not ontologically navel gazing or existentially trying to riddle out or puzzle out life's conundrums or

metaphysical queries, but just having fun, being joyful and showing me that life could be a blast. That

was huge for me. But then after my brother passed away and I started going through some other things,

I just felt this crippling depression and despair that was so intense that I would see like witches' faces

laughing in my subconscious with their distorted visage in my imagination. It was pretty wild.

Ben Bennett (04:32):


Ben Courson (04:33):

So then God brought me out again. So it was kind of like, it was the 10 year battle had a few really great

years, went through another brutal year and a half and then God lifted me out again. And so I'm just so

thankful and I want to share the message of hope with the world. And that's what Flirting with Darkness

does. I lay out 11 practical steps to help people get through their depression, too.

Ben Bennett (04:57):

Dude, I've read it. It's so good. And I love how much you share about your story honestly, and you don't

sugar coat it. And you talk about how hard it was losing your brother and, what, your sister years ago

and dang, man. And you mentioned a couple minutes ago that you read a book by an author we both

know, and by that time you knew you had clinical depression. What was the process of figuring out you

had depression like? Because I think so many people are like, "I don't know. This is all I've ever known.

I've just been sad."

Ben Courson (05:36):

Yeah, for me, the process was the feeling that there was a psychic interstellar space into which I was

free falling and I was disoriented and I couldn't find my way up or down. Or to change the analogy, to

use a mixed metaphor simile, it was like getting the rug pulled out from under me and I was just falling

through this psychic space and I didn't know what was happening. Because my story is a little bit

different. I was a ridiculously happy high schooler. So I was just super joyful. I mean, I remember going

into my senior year of high school. My goal was to hang out with 10 different groups of friends per day.

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So, I was very social, very outgoing, very happy. And things were going well for me. I was all conference

in basketball and student body president and won homecoming and things were just good. I went to

Disneyland almost every day. You couldn't write a better story.

Then when I turned 18, I entered the ministry. I was training for the ministry, became a pastor

my senior year of high school. And everything went the other way. So I suddenly didn't want to see

anybody. I was completely isolated. The people I was around, I was constantly losing my temper. I didn't

really like being around people very often. And I would just isolate and withdraw into myself. And I

haven't really shared it this way, this in-depth because you asked a really good question that no one's

really asked me in that way that you just, that query that you just [inaudible 00:07:17]. I'm just saying

for me, it was like night and day. As good as everything was going, that's how bad everything started

going in my mind. I hated life. I hated life. I hated getting up every morning. I hated the morning times. I

hated dragging myself out of nightmares only to find there's no relief in the waking, as Suzanne Collins

would say.

And so it was gnarly, man. It was gnarly. And then, so I don't want to sugar coat it because I

want to say when people think, "Oh, Ben, you're just a happy go lucky person." I am very joyful and God

has healed me and I do have hope and I am a happy person, but I went through a very, very dark, long

decade of depression. And that's why I'm so passionate about sharing my wounds because our wounds

heal others paradoxically.

Ben Bennett (08:09):

Bro, got chills with that last statement, man. And I think for so many people, like looking at the Psalms,

they are full of dark depression that seems like the clouds are never going to lift. And your story talking

about 10 years of bad depression. It's like year one goes by, year two goes by, when is stuff ever going to

get better? And I know for you, it did. What was that process like of beginning to find healing and


Ben Courson (08:45):

Well, there's 11 things, but I'm going to sum it up and synthesize it into one thing, start chasing purpose

and stop chasing happiness. That was the biggest thing that got me out.

Ben Bennett (08:59):

Come on.

Ben Courson (08:59):

So I'm going to say that again, start chasing purpose, stop chasing happiness. Because the more I tried to

just figure out a way to get out of my depression or to think my way out, the worse it got. Trying to think

your way out of depression can, in some cases, be as difficult as trying to fall asleep or trying to be

genuine. The less you try, the better those things go. And for me, just thinking was getting me deeper

into a rut. I was forming these, through neuro-plasticity in a negative way, terraforming my brain into

these grooves that were forming in my cerebral, cranial package that went so dark. I just formed these

habitual terrible thoughts of just life's not worth living and not finding meaning. And so what got me out

is this thing called the 10,000 hour rule.

And I just started practicing my craft because I had a dream, I had a vision, that I still have. And

instead of waiting for my dreams to happen, I just decided to, instead of waiting for my dreams to roll

up, I just started rolling up my sleeves and I said, "Okay, I'm just going to work my craft." So I read

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books. I wrote for thousands of hours. I practiced preaching, even if no one would... I would go

everywhere, dude. I would go to high school classrooms, which I think are the hardest. I think that's the

hardest venue you can speak at, a high school classroom. So major props to school teachers. I would go

to homeless shelters where I would get heckled. I just started speaking everywhere. So sometimes when

people see what's happening with Hope Generation, they're like, "Whoa, you're young, that's crazy."

And I'm like, "But you didn't see what was happening year after year after year of just getting heckled

and people falling asleep and walking out during my messages."

You know what I mean? But that gave me purpose. That's the thing. It gave me purpose and

when I had purpose and I started writing and practicing, I literally clocked in 11,073 hours in five years

into the 10,000 hour rule. And the 10,000 hour rule basically is that there's no way you can be a worldclass

master. The only shot you have at it is practicing for 10,000 hours if you have a gift at something.

And that's true for anything, whether it's science fiction writing, whether it's criminology, whether it's

you literally are a mastermind criminal, a tennis player, pianist, cellist, hockey player. Malcolm Gladwell,

he popularized this in the 10,000 hour rule chapter of Outliers. So that was the biggest thing. And my

counselor actually told me this, stop chasing happiness, start chasing meaning, start chasing purpose.

And the irony is then happiness and joy follows.

So I mean, just even look at how the Declaration of Independence is set up, we're guaranteed

life. We're guaranteed liberty, but happiness, good luck. All we can guarantee is you're welcome to

pursue it. I just think that's why it's so important to pursue purpose. And like you said, the psalmists

were depressed all the time. 50% of the Psalms, scholars say, are laments. So there's nothing wrong with

going through depression. It's just, what are you going to do with it? What are you going to do with it?

And if you'll chase your purpose, your meaning, the dream God gave you, visioneer and dream casting,

that for me was the only way out and God got me out. God helped me. And one more thing I want to say

is just praying, talking to God, he's the one who's going to get you out of this.

Yes, God uses medication. Yes, God uses counseling. Yes, God uses the 10,000 hour rule. Yes,

God uses endorphins and Navy SEAL training and all this stuff that helped me out. But at the same time,

we can't forget the most important thing that the psalmists did was pray and praise. And that's the

biggest thing that got me out, but pursue purpose, not happiness.

Ben Bennett (12:46):

Bro, so good. I love that. It's like rather than just focusing on our problems and keeping trying to fix our

problems and being obsessed with that, I think about my own life, focusing on something different,

focusing on the solution, the positive. I think about all the times throughout the New Testament, we're

told to put our minds on things above. It's actually over 570 times all throughout Scripture, the Old

Testament, New Testament, in just the ESV, it mentions the words, mind, think, believe and variations of

those. And so much of it is about what we do with our mind.

Ben Courson (13:24):


Ben Bennett (13:25):

And there's a purpose to that. It's not saying think sad thoughts, give into those. No, no. We know from

neuroplasticity, you're going to create those ruts and keep going down that way. But if we focus on the

truer and better story and what God has, that's so much of how we get out. Dude, as I think about your

story, your book, as I think about my book Free to Thrive that's coming out. So in my book, we explore

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how anxiety, depression, so many struggles are never random. There's always a deeper cause, be it pain,

disconnection from other people, and what I loved, one of the things in your book, with Flirting with

Darkness, was you beautifully told your story and, too, how your depression wasn't random. It was the

death of your sister, the death of your brother, these certain things that led to depression. What do you

think are common things that people can experience that might lead them to experience depression?

Ben Courson (14:33):

Well, some of it is biological actually. So there is more and more research that indicates that biology

plays a part in depression. So you can inherit it, in part, from your family. Now that is incredibly

depressing and hopeless if you left it there. But the good news is neither the Bible nor science leaves it

in your biology. In Ezekiel it says, "Do not say my teeth are set on edge because my fathers ate sour

grapes." Now as a proverb in Ezekiel's day where the people were saying, "I'm bitter, my teeth are set

on edge because my fathers ate sour grapes, therefore I'm sour." And God said, "Don't say that proverb

in Israel anymore." That's what he spoke through to Ezekiel in this story. In the same way, I don't think

we should through Freudian daddy Oedipus complex issues or through biological genetic determinism

start to say, "I guess I'm this way because my parents are," but rather than through neuro-plasticity.

I think of Dr. Daniel Amen who did 83,000 brain scans over a 22 year career. The single most

important thing he found through brain scans is that the brain can change. You're not stuck with your

psychological equipment. You say, "How do I change my brain?" Two words, rote and repetition. What

that means is over and over again, rote just means you did the same thing over and over and over again.

You know that saying like, "What's the definition of crazy? Doing the same thing over and over again and

expecting a different result." Well, actually neuroplasticity is doing the same thing over and over and

over again and you actually will get a different result. If you practice these things over and over again,

that will be your reality. So your focus is what determines your reality. I know Qui-Gon Jinn said that, but

it's still true.

So the Bible says all the time, "Put your thoughts on things above. As a man thinks in his heart,

so is he. Meditated on what's true, noble, lovely, just, pure, virtuous and praiseworthy. You will keep

him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you." The Bible says, "Meditate day and night on the true

revelation of light," as one translation renders Psalm chapter one. The Bible says that we're to take our

thoughts captive. So these ideas that the Bible propagates, we're to pull down strongholds, it actually

works. So yes, there's a biological component, but neuroplasticity says you can actually reverse that.

Another thing that puts us in depression is just circumstantial. Like I went through some intense

romantic heartbreaks, and that made me incredibly depressed for a time. But what I would tell people is

whether it's environmental, whether it's biological, what's super important to remember is that you

should not judge the rest of your life on this current season.

If I knew all the dreams that God would bring to pass, I wouldn't have been so depressed. If I

had more faith that, if I had a waiting faith, 106 times the Bible says to wait for God, I wouldn't have

been depressed. I would have been like, "Wow, God, you're so good." I wish I believed him more before

the Red Sea parted, rather than doubting is anything ever going to get better? Because Tolkien believed

that despair is arrogance. You're saying nothing's ever going to get better and you act like you know that

beyond a shadow of a doubt. That's pretty arrogant to say that you know the future beyond the shadow

of a doubt, there's no hope. So have the humility to say, "You know what? Maybe things will change."

And the Bible talks about this hope that things will change. Job said, "I will for my change to come. Even

if he slay me, yet will I trust in him?"

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And the interesting thing about Job is scholars believe his suffering was nine months, but his

blessings lasted 140 years. So nine months is a light affliction compared to the 140 years, which is a way

to glory. So don't judge the rest of your life on this current season right now.

Ben Bennett (18:09):

Hmm. Bro, that's so good. I think of, whether it's biological and certain things make us more susceptible

to depression, whether it's trauma or pain or unmet needs or whatever, I love what you said, if I could

summarize it, that basically what we do is similar, the same. We focus on what we are thinking about

and we chase purpose and we move forward. There's a way out of depression because of God designed

us to heal. And through neuroplasticity, the neurons that fire apart wire apart? We can overcome this

thing. A couple of minutes ago, you mentioned just the length of depression, what people can be

experiencing. Earlier we talked about your story and you hinted or you touched on this a little bit about

waiting on the Lord, but what else would you say to somebody who feels like, "Man, it isn't getting

better. There's no way out. I've been struggling with depression for years even"?

Ben Courson (19:24):

Yeah. So I would give a bunch of, I'm just going to rapid fire a ton of practical tips so we get real practical

for people. If you struggle with panic attacks, name the five things closest to you out loud. So I would say

a light stand, plug, floor, my cat Fridge, who's sleeping over there. He's the best. My lamp, my door. You

name five things out loud and what that does is it roots you here rather than getting lost in your

imaginary world of catastrophizing and just this illusionary world of troubles. Mark Twain said, "I've had

a great many troubles in my life, most of which have never happened." So I think a lot of our troubles

don't even happen. And I think if we root ourselves right here right now, by naming the five things

closest to us, Jesus said, "The kingdom's here, it's among you. It's within you. It's at hand." Sometimes

you have to root yourself in the present and take no thought for tomorrow and not get stuck in your


A second thing I would say is take a deep breath. Just breathe. The very name of God wasn't

meant to be spoken. It was meant to be prayed. So it sounded like "Yahweh." Right? You would breathe

the name of God. There's something powerful about taking a deep breath. Another thing I would say is

prayer walks. The Bible never says you have to fold your hands and close your eyes. In fact, just go on a

walk and talk to him. Science shows that talking to God about your hopes, fears and dreams has the

same effect on your brain as therapy. I would encourage people to pursue purpose and not try to just

wait for a feeling of happiness to come and then joy will follow as a result. I'd encourage people to dive

deep into the promises of God. There are over 3,500 promises in the Bible, like "Turn to the stronghold,

ye prisoners of hope: even today do I declare that I will render double to you," Zechariah 9:12.

Cling to the promises of God. I'd encourage people to go outside. We don't go outside anymore

very often. So one of the founders of homeopathy said, "Get outside of yourself, your room and go, go

outdoors." I know we have Netflix, Uber Eats, Amazon Prime shelter in place, white collar jobs you can

work, but sometimes you just need to go outside and breathe fresh air. I think exercise is absolutely

important. I do that every single day. When you release endorphins, it activates opiate receptors in your

brain which help minimize discomfort and are akin to the drug morphine. I encourage you to get around

friends. Isolation is not good for you. You think that's what you want, but it is not good for you. Get

around friends, adventures with God, adventures with squad. And I don't mean depressing friends.

Maybe you're depressed because you have depressing friends. Get around sendy, fun, adventurous


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Those friends helped get me out of my depression. Meditate on heaven. So when loved ones

die, Jesus said, "Don't let your heart shutter" in Greek or "Don't let your heart be troubled" in English.

Don't have a heart quake. "In my father's house are many mansions," he said. Remember that God's El

Roi, he's the God who sees you. Talk to a counselor, talk to friends. I don't know why people say therapy

isn't biblical. That's Second Opinionians 2:12. The Bible actually says, "In the multitude of counselors,

there is safety." So talk to people, really talk to people. Let God love on you. Don't do anything. Just let

him love on you. Realize that the kingdom of God is not a free enterprise system of upward mobility.

Just let him love the heavens into and the despair clean out of you. And the last thing I would say is you

got to follow your dream. God didn't put a dream in you to frustrate you, but to fulfill you.

I couldn't care less that that sounds like motivational speak. That's just one of the things that

helped me out of depression. And the Bible says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he gives you the

desires of your heart." So God didn't put desires there to frustrate you, but to fulfill you. And when you

enjoy the joy of being enjoyed by God, your dreams and his plans for your life sync up like Bluetooth

pairing devices, and you're on the same page. So those are some real practical steps that will help

people, I think, out of depression.

Ben Bennett (23:17):

Dude. So, so helpful. All of that. If you're watching or listening, play that back, write it down, listen to it

in slow-mo, such good advice. I know for me so much of getting out of depression has to do with what's

going on up here and these default patterns or beliefs, whether it's shame or thinking I'm going to fail or

thinking I'm alone that get triggered and just can come out of seemingly nowhere and remembering,

remembering what God did, remembering what he's done through me in the past, visualizing that,

closing my eyes and thinking about, "Okay, I'm afraid of this speaking event," think whatever, that I'm

going to fail or trip over my words like I did that one time, but going back to an experience and

visualizing God there with me and a time that he crushed it through me and people were stoked and

somebody was really helped.

That visualization, and like you were saying, the thousand hour rule and repeated thoughts sets

us up. It's a neuroscience technique that sets us up for the future to not get as depressed or fearful

about a coming up scenario. One thing I wanted to ask. Man, you've been talking about this stuff for

years, pounding the pavement, speaking all over podcasts, interviews. What can we continue to do to

change the stigma that people might have about mental health?

Ben Courson (24:52):

Well, first of all, we have to, I think you said something really good a minute ago about gratitude,

science is showing that it activates the reciprocity center in your brain. So it helps you be included in the

tribe is the idea because if you're more likely to give to others, they're actually, or if somebody gives to

you and you're thankful, then you'll want to give back to them, which helps you not be selfish, which

would otherwise isolate you from the tribe. So I think gratitude's another huge one, just real quick

regarding what you said earlier, a trick to get out of depression and science is showing that's a piece of

the puzzle. To remove the stigma, to answer that question, we have to remind people that some of the

greatest people in history were depressed. Some of the greatest people in history were depressed.

Abraham Lincoln walked in the woods with a shotgun, attempted to kill himself when this girl he

loved passed away and he struggled with melancholy through his whole life Winston Churchill called his

bipolar disorder the black dog of depression, didn't want to be in a second story flat, lest desperate

thoughts do come to head. In other words, he didn't want to fling himself off if a desperate moment

came. I think of Leo Tolstoy who wrote Anna Karenina in the throes of depression. Buzz Aldrin, second

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man on the moon, struggle with depression. Michael Phelps couldn't leave his hotel room for four days.

He's a huge mental health advocate, even though he's the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time.

U2 struggles with depression. So I think that's important to remember Elijah, Moses. Elijah asked God to

take his life. Moses asked God to take his life. Jonah asked God to take his life.

Paul said, "We despaired even of life." David was borderline, if not bipolar. Jesus said, "My soul

is sorrowful even unto death." Jobs said, "I wish I was a stillborn." So we have to remember the greatest

Bible characters struggled with either sorrow, despair or suicide ideation. On the other hand, I think

we're kind of removing the stigma and taboo, but I see like an opposite reaction that I want to fight

against as well. And that is, "Oh, well I guess like I'm just going to learn to live with depression because

it's my authentic self, like I'm just a poor [crosstalk 00:26:53]." And I want to fight against both of these

because why would you want to live with it? That's like saying, "Why are you cast down, o my soul?

Keep up the good work." No, he said, "Why are you cast down, o my soul?", hoping God, like this is

something we want to be healed from.

And I do not believe, and I need to be loud and clear about this in all of my study studies about

the brain, about selective serotonin, reuptake inhibitor, about the Scriptures, my own personal

experience, I do not believe we have to live with depression. We were called to be defeat depression. I

can't say that loudly and clearly enough. We are not called to live with this thing. We are not called to

live with depression. We're not called to live with suicidal ideation. We are not called to live with

despair. We're called to be healed from it. We're called to defeat it. We're called to conquer it. And

that's why it's so important that we understand that God will enable us to do that.

Ben Bennett (27:46):

Bro, so good. I couldn't agree with you more. And that's what I've been pounding the pavement about.

We, when it comes to depression, for some reason, oftentimes the thought we have or the motto we

have is "This is just who I am. I'm stuck like this for life and it's a disease for life." But if we understand

the Bible and if we understand brain science and brain scans and all the recent research in recent

decades, we know that that's not true. The brain can change. Things can get better. We don't have to

live with it forever. It's going to be a fight and it's going to be hard and challenging, but it can get better.

Let's touch on that if we can because I would love to dive a little bit deeper into what does, in your

research, because you're reading, I don't know how you do so much, man. It's awesome.

It's like a new sermon every week and you're crushing it and writing books and I'm always

hearing new research that you're quoting and whatnot, just freaking sick, but what would you, to help

somebody understand how the brain can change and depression can be overcome, what have you

researched? What might give some people hope if they're thinking "My brain is stuck like this forever"?

Ben Courson (29:08):

Well, I think the, so I'm going to say a bunch of different stuff. So one is neuro-theology and that is that

brain scans and magnetic resonance imaging are showing us that if you talk to a loving God intentionally,

the frontal lobe of your brain activates into its highest intellectual capacity and you boost your brain

intelligence. You can also do that by laughing, but if you talk intentionally to God, that also does that. If

you talk to a loving God or meditate on him, the neurophysiological research of brain scans and

resonance imaging, CAT scans, CT scans, MRIs, show us that you develop richer, thicker gray matter in

your prefrontal cortex, which is the part of your brain responsible for creative thinking, executive

function, planning, concentration, et cetera. You develop more blood flow in your interior singular

cortex in your brain, which is where empathy and compassion are located.

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Your amygdala starts to lose its power. The amygdala is where fear, it's that almond shaped set

of nuclei that is where fear and anger come from. If you believe in a tribalistic, vengeful deity, you'll

actually have more activity in your amygdala. You'll have higher blood pressure. You'll be more prone to

anger and fear. So I just think that even the research is showing us that your brain can literally be

shaped differently based on how you perceive God, that will dictate how you receive from God. And I

love how brain scans show that. I think that's super cool. Neuro-theology is where you can brain scan

people when they're praying and see what's happening in their brain. So that's one thing.

Another thing I would say is, touching on what you mentioned earlier about visualizing the good

things that God did in the past, there's this part of your brain called the hippocampus, which is named

after a seahorse in Greek, because it looks like a sea horse and your hippocampus is the place in your

brain where memory consolidation primarily happens. It's more complex than this. Everything's

integrated in your brain, but I'm just doing this for accessibility so that I can understand it and relate it to

others, but your memory consolidation area, your hippocampus, if you recall the past faithfulness of

God, that will, actually, as you remember, "Wow, God, you sent manna from heaven, water from the

rock. You parted the Red Sea. You got me through the desert, Og, king of Bashan.

"Og, and pardon me, Sihon, king of Bashan, et cetera. You helped me to defeat them in the

Promised Land, the Canaanites, Amorites, the Hittites," it's almost like we're remembering, "Wow, God,

you did all of this stuff," and that actually gives you more hope for the future. So if you keep using your

hippocampus to remember God's faithfulness and what he just did or did in the past, then you'll be

more faith-filled about the future when you remember how faithful he has been in the past, and then

you'll be more fulfilled today.

Ben Bennett (31:52):

Come on. I love that. I love how brain science affirms how God has created us to heal and things we've

been hearing from God as his people for thousands upon thousands of years. And I mean, it just all the

more points to his existence, his love for us, his care, and just like so many of us end up struggling in this

life, but we got to know that we are also wired to heal. We are hardwired by God to heal and for our

brains to change.

Ben Courson (32:24):

Yes, sir.

Ben Bennett (32:26):

So good, man. I was going to say, I started thinking about the friend ventures thing. It's like, dude, you

can live on some, sorry off topic. My mind. You go on some wild friend ventures. And that I love how

that is integrated into you being healthy and overcoming depression. People don't have to think, "Okay,

to overcome depression, I'm going to go see these boring doctors. I'm going to sit with a boring

therapist. I'm going to do all these thoughts. And I feel like I'm going to the dentist all the time, except

the dentist for my brain."

Ben Courson (32:58):

Sometimes you just need more fun and sometimes you need to take a whole lot more things a whole lot

less seriously. And I'm seeing that because I get in my head and I don't think that's always the best way

to do things. In the book of Philippians, which I'm teaching there at my home church, 11 times he talks

about the mind in 104 verses. 19 times he talks about joy or its cognate verb form rejoice, between 16

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and 19 times. Joy is a mindset reset. And sometimes to get a mindset reset, you just have to get around

people who are more joyful. And the thing is you got to lower the bar a little bit. I think sometimes we're

waiting for the perfect friend. Well, you're never going to have the perfect friend. What you got to do is

say, "God, there's somebody that you want to put in my life. Open my eyes, Lord, send this person my


"Help me to see who's maybe already here who will come into my life and start to give me the

sense of joy and get me out of my head and toss the football and go surf or go skateboard" or whatever

your vibe is. For me, it was skateboarding. That was one of the big things. I have a video on YouTube

that's called how skateboarding healed me from depression. I'm serious. That was huge for me. I call it a

Holy of Holies on the go, a moving meditation. And I just think sometimes you just got to get out of your

head and have fun. And Ben, that's what I love about you is you're so intelligent. You're so wellresearched

but you also love to get after it and have fun. And I think that people understand that it's

going to really help them get on the path of joy.

Ben Bennett (34:30):

Yeah, dude, you too, man. You know what, as we get close to wrapping up, I wanted to ask, where can

people stay in touch with you, follow you, get your book, Flirting with Darkness? Talk to us about your

social media, your YouTube. You've got some awesome stuff out there.

Ben Courson (34:47):

So if Instagram's your thing, just type in Hope Generation. If YouTube is your thing, just type in Hope

Generation. If Facebook's your thing, typing in Hope Generation. Everything is at my website at You can watch our TV show on Hillsong Channel or TBN or a bunch of different

networks. Our radio show, you can see that on my web what stations it's playing on. We have a podcast,

a daily podcast on Hope Generation. And then obviously my books, those are available wherever books

are sold or just at my website. So really you can just find everything at We have an

app, a Hope Generation app as well, so just devoted to daily giving people hope.

Ben Bennett (35:30):

Dude. Yeah. And I forgot to even mention this, seeing you on TBN has been awesome. You're crushing it,

such great interviews, such great conversations. To those watching, like Ben said, Hillsong, TBN, look out

for him on there. I'm always learning stuff from you, bro. But for those watching and listening, we want

you to know there's a way out of depression. There's a way forward. Ben's experienced it. I've

experienced it. God can do it. Brain science affirms it. And we hope that this conversation today gave

you a lot of encouragement and Ben, dude, thank you so much for being here today, for this

conversation, for your wisdom and for your friendship just the past year. It's been awesome to get to

know you.

Ben Courson (36:20):

Ben, I'm so glad we're friends. I love you to pieces. Dude, we're brothers for life. You're doing incredible

work in the world. I am cheering you on. I'm a fan of what you do. And I want to just encourage every

listener and viewer do not give up. That is the center of everything. The Psalmist said, "I would have

despaired, but I believe to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of living." Do not give up. That is the

center of everything. So I'm so grateful I got to spend this time with you and Ben, thanks for having me,

dude. I'm stoked.

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Ben Bennett (36:51):

Dude, thank you. Stoked as well.