“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”
– Oscar Wilde
Hey, if we have the time to consider our happiness, then things can’t be all that bad, right? We’re not running for our lives; chased by a wooly mammoth or saber-toothed cat. Isn’t it all relative? For the 11% of Americans, 12 years of age and older who are depressed (National Center for Heath Statistics), this comment doesn’t help. Possibly, we’re running from other monsters and demons?
One would think that because life has become more convenient – with the inventing of household appliances, the internet, air travel, and technology that our sense of well-being and happiness would have increased proportionally. Isn’t that what advertising has told us would happen?
Then why are 23% of American women between the ages of 40 and 59 taking antidepressants? Women are 2.5 times more likely to take antidepressants than men, but 75% of all suicides are committed by men! (NCHS) These statistics imply that perhaps women are more apt to do something about their grief before it’s too late.
What is the primary environmental condition for depression? There are undoubtedly causal effects from chemical toxicity via pollutants in the air, food, and drinking water. Or, it’s from the bombardment of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) waves from cell phones, electricity, and harmful ultraviolet radiation caused by a depleting ozone layer? Perhaps, the increase in depression and resignation is due to world politics, terrorism, injustice, and poverty? Or, changing societal values and pressures and the multi-generational erosion of the nuclear family? Yikes!
Obviously, there are too many variables to pinpoint one particular environmental cause for unhappiness. For most of us, a dip into the jar of malaise is usually not the result of any one situation, but a domino cascade of adverse personal and career related events. These, coupled with additional external factors challenge even the strongest to maintain their rudder in such a maelstrom.
Aristotle said: “Happiness depends on ourselves.”
If this is true, then what can we do about it? For a start, like the A.A. credo suggests: We can only look at changing what we have the power to change and hopefully have the wisdom to know what we can’t.
Even though most of us are more or less happy, isn’t it impossible to be happy all of the time? Maybe. Perhaps, those who claim perpetual happiness are just a few sandwiches short of a picnic?
It’s feasible that having the strength and ability to bounce back are essential ingredients to happiness? Optimism brings with it a certain resiliency. Aren’t we supposed to toughen up, pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and march on. But, how?
Socrates said: “Happiness is living well.”
For most mortals, this means getting wellness back on track. To accomplish this, most of us initiate little routines. It starts with some stretching, light exercise and improving our diet. That doesn’t mean just eliminating toxins from our food consumption, but also noxious television news, too.
Yes, the TV, A.K.A. “idiot box,” goes off, except, in our home, sporting events. We can always check the headlines at Reuters.com. Spend the remaining time reading positive material; such as this website. 😉Then, begin a new project that’s fruitful and enjoyable or help someone out. After a short time, the wind is back, the sails refilled, and it’s full speed ahead.
Once our feeling of happiness returns, we see in retrospect that it can be fleeting. It needs to be nurtured and cared for; as a gardener maintains his garden – with disciplined and regular maintenance.
If we understand what makes us happy, then we can try to preserve it in our lives and leave out what doesn’t. Of course, this isn’t always possible. We all can’t be skipping around in white silk pants and flowers in our hair. Life Happens. It has a way of presenting the next thing to push our buttons, just when we least expect.
Who has time for happiness? For many, it seems like a luxury. Survival is enough of a concern. Being miserable is a state of mind many know best. My friend John X says: “I know this, and can function with this. There’s a comfort level to being in a place that I know well. I don’t have time for thinking about being happy. Anyone who tells you that they have the answer probably also has a bottle of snake oil for sale, too.” (Now, this is a typical New Yorker!)
When you get the Blues, where do you go for help, for answers? There are a lot of self-proclaimed experts out there with letters after their names preaching happiness with the conviction of used car salesmen. Doesn’t every pop psychologist have a book on the subject? Hey, happiness sells! This whole happiness thing is a big business.
Here’s something that they don’t want you to know:
Happiness is something that you discover for yourself.
No one can give you a recipe to bake it or a map to find it. No one can draw plans to build it, no one can tell you what it is. You can’t find it in a book, a poem, at the bottom of a bottle, or in a pill. It has no description. It is without words. It’s something that you know you have it when you do and often don’t know that you don’t have it when you don’t. It’s a feeling or attitude with which you live your life.
It is something that comes when you realize that it’s yours if you want it; when you choose it. It’s not a person or a thing. It’s not a sound or a smell. It’s not something money can buy because that thrill eventually wears off.
Many say that you make your own happiness. How does one make it? For some, it’s having someone gratefully receive their gifts, recognize their hard work and efforts. For others, it’s helping to lessen the suffering of others. Some think it’s making a contribution or a difference. Some say; “Happy wife, Happy Life.” For some, it’s the feeling of freedom. Many artists feel it’s from the satisfaction of bringing beauty to the world or expressing their shared humanity through their works. Maybe, it’s finding God. For some, it’s having one more day.
Some say happiness is an ability. It’s the grace to enjoy the small things, or, to appreciate their life and the people in it. Some say it’s from being able to love fully. Like the Wilson Pickett song says;” Ninety-nine-and-a-half won’t do.”
Some don’t believe that they deserve happiness. They would rather punish themselves for their sins and misdeeds. Some suggest that it’s yours if you have the strength to forgive. If you can see that you made your mistakes with the knowledge, limits, inexperience, strength, and fears you had at the time, then maybe you can let it go.
Yes, you are sorry. You regret your choice. You would make amends if you could. You made a mistake. We’ve all made mistakes. Now, you can choose once again.
You don’t have to be alone anymore. Happiness comes when you decide that you no longer have a choice for anything else. You want happiness when you decide that you don’t have the time for anything but love.
Happiness is not something you can pursue, or find. Happiness will find you.
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