Monday, January 30, 2012

The pursuit of happiness

Our local news this morning reported two more teen suicides at a nearby high school. While I don't pretend to know the reasons behind what happened, I can say with certainty that these kids weren't happy and saw suicide as the only way to achieve it. I'll save you the diatribes on mental health, counseling and psychotropic drugs (I'm too exhausted to tackle that discussion twice in one day), but my earlier discussion did bring up a good point on Facebook this morning.

We believe that we've got the right to be happy.That regardless of whatever comes our way, happiness is the God-given right we possess.

Sadly, that's just not the case.

In a world of immediate gratification, fast food, microwaves, smart phones and the internet, we're taught that we can have anything we want the minute we want it. We don't have to work for it or wait for it and as a result, we also don't know how to appreciate what we have already. I'll admit that I'm as guilty of this frame of thinking as the next person.

What I'm not guilty of, however, is believing that I'm going to be happy all the time.

I've battled with depression since I was at least nine years old (possibly earlier) and have done almost every possible kind of treatment. I'll spare you my own personal experiences for now, but suffice it to say, it wasn't until I embraced the fact that life isn't always sunshine and roses that I finally got better. I know there are going to be days when I just don't feel like getting out of bed. Days when the last thing I feel like doing is smiling or laughing. Days when it's all I can do to shower or brush my teeth. Days when I'll cry.

Unfortunately, we're taught that sadness isn't normal. That sadness is clinical...medicinal...mentally debilitating. We're taught that crying is bad, that feeling blue isn't healthy. And that a pill (pick a pill...any pill) will fix it all. Unfortunately, as long as we believe those things, we will NEVER overcome depression. Because a pill isn't going to pay the bills or find us true love or land us the perfect job or make the annoying neighbors move. We're always going to have stressors in our lives that make life a little tough sometimes. We have to make a conscious decision that regardless of what happens that may not be good, we can still choose to be happy.

Now, I'm not talking about cheering and celebrating when a job offer falls through or your car breaks down, but those things also aren't the end of the world either and we have to keep that in perspective. Given my irritation last week when I missed my flight to Minneapolis, you know that I have as hard a time with perspective as anyone else. It's a struggle for all of us. We can only keep trying.

Remember, we're not guaranteed happiness, only the pursuit of it.

So go pursue it already!!

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