The Pursuit of Happiness
The best way I have found for me, personally, to combat depression is to discover new levels / places where happiness can be found or discovered: an actual pursuit. Seems elementary, right? I suppose it is, at its base. I want to be happy – I think most people do. But do most people aggressively pursue happiness? Or do they wait for it to show up at their door, unannounced but welcomed with significant fanfare, given today’s social media-infused environment? We live in a strange time – it would seem that gone are the days of suffering in silence, of struggling alone in our heartbreak or addiction, and certainly gone are days of quiet celebration or humility.
Not a Professional
I am not a psychologist; I have visited a few. I am not a doctor of any kind; I have visited many different kinds. Most have wanted to prescribe a pill to help me sleep, to battle light anxiety, to keep me alert, to combat fatigue, to ease digestion issues, and reflux – an so on, you are most likely familiar. I am not against pills or drugs. I am, however, against the masking of issues or unnecessarily prescribing drugs.
Let me clarify, I do not suffer, as many do, from clinical depression or anxiety. I am a person with typical aches, pains, joys, and sorrows that accompany being a human. I’d call myself “normal” if I didn’t have so much trouble believing there is such a thing.
My father was diagnosed as manic depressive 25+ years ago, before Bipolar became the chosen name of his disorder. He was a light-hearted, loving man who taught me, not only the power of a solid handshake, but also how to see beyond a moment, a place, a person. He truly loved all people.
Even today, many years after his death, I receive messages from people telling me how much they genuinely loved my dad and what a difference he made in their life. That is quite a legacy of someone who suffered severely from mental illness for many years – of someone who made many mistakes later in life – of someone who hurt family and friends with those mistakes.
He never stopped loving people or trying to achieve success. He never gave up on happiness. Just two of the many lessons I learned from him.
I think it is my responsibility to grow, to develop talents or learn new skills – these things bring me happiness or help me to see beyond a current level of status quo or a feeling of being trapped.
An example of this would be my current obsession with visiting cities or landmarks I have never seen on recent road trips. It’s easy to visit Carmel a dozen times and dine at the same restaurants on every visit. It’s another thing to step outside your comfort zone and take a bit of time to learn something new – you don’t know everything, as much as you would like to believe you do.
Dr. Daniel Crosby, author of The Laws of Wealth, states in a recent article, “Eighty percent of the non-genetic components of happiness can be controlled by our attitude and by making choices that are consistent with finding true joy. The first step in this pursuit is ensuring that the goals we are setting for ourselves are consistent with finding true happiness.” – Can Money Buy Happiness? Sort of.
Pursuits can be as simple as discovering a new hobby or talent. A little over a year ago, a good friend introduced me to mosaics. It is an art form very different from what I was accustomed to. I am still learning, even after re-tiling my hearth and a couple window sills, creating several decorative trays, platter, and plates. Expanding my horizons keeps me from being locked in old ways, with old, stale thoughts and same old experiences. For me, NEW = Happy.
Out of the Box
The unexpected in life, as well as meeting new and different people can enrich your soul and change perspectives. You are not done – you are not complete. The moment you find comfort in your own little, lonely box is the moment personal growth retards and doors close for lifelong learning and the actual search for happiness. I am determined to stay outside of that little box which has been my life until now.
Happiness. A worthy pursuit, yet somehow, most of us fail. And in our failure, of what do we miss out? Does it affect our partners, spouses, families, or friends? Our work? Our lives? Of course, but do we even notice? We get so caught up in living that we don’t even realize or even care when we are unhappy – it has become our normal. And then, we fail to recognize when we are happy. Sometimes, the simplest things alter our attitude and mood enough to allow a little bit of joy to creep in. And sometimes, it’s just faking it – and hell, if it works, why not?
Don’t Miss It
Like grabbing the brass ring, it is easy to miss. Life goes whizzing by so quickly that we can’t even see the joy we have found or slow down enough to embrace it and feel the difference between happiness and a droning existence or what we think we should be doing, how we think we should be feeling — what the world or our world expects of us.
My Little Tip
I use a fab little app called Sleep Cycle – every morning when I wake, it asks me how I feel. I started selecting the smiley face, no matter how I felt upon waking – guess what? It has made a huge difference in how I start my day. And why wouldn’t it? Perception becomes reality. If it works the opposite way, it stands to reason, right?
Happiness is contagious and NOT underrated. Share it. Like a room without a roof.
**Stay Tuned for my new 3-part Key Point Podcast series with Dr.Daniel Crosby: “The Pursuit of Happiness”