Monday, April 2, 2012

Are You Happy?!

Many things have been said about happiness. To me, I can not feel it anymore. Some say sadness is necessary to know happiness, like the night is necessary to know the day. For me all feeling is unipolar. Being depressed so long I noticed that my perspective on pleasure has shifted dramatically relative to what I used to feel. My average feeling—what I feel most of the time—has slid way down the happiness scale, and feeling "normal"—what everyone else feels and takes for granted in their daily life—is the highest form of happiness that I am able to attain. That feeling, what living is for other human beings, for me is happiness. To me, happiness is the functionality of the serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine receptors in my brain. It is not a choice. One can not be happy drowning, alone, against one's will, and without seeing the end of one's misery—while being expected to function normally in life.

—Excerpt from my journal, 3/18/10 4:02 AM
What is the secret to happiness? Is this really the most important question to ask? Then what is? The focus on Positive Psychology has a wide-ranging detrimental effect of people obsessing over being happy to the point where they are in despair over not being totally happy, if such a thing is even possible. If we could put a drug in the tap water that would make everybody happy, would we want that? Is happiness the highest achievement we should seek in life?
"Nowadays, it’s not enough to be happy—if you can be even happier. The American Dream and the pursuit of happiness have morphed from a quest for general contentment to the idea that you must be happy at all times and in every way."
—Lori Gottlieb
"One should never direct people towards happiness, because happiness too is an idol of the market-place. One should direct them towards mutual affection. A beast gnawing at its prey can be happy too, but only human beings can feel affection for each other, and this is the highest achievement they can aspire to."
—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

What is happiness? It's inner peace. Where does it come from? Your friends, parents, sister and brother. Having something to do - something that you enjoy. A hobby. Having a goal - something to look forward to. But a prerequisite for happiness is a health. A healthy physical as well as mental states are necessities. If a man is suffering from depression, he is unable to feel happy no matter ho hard he tries, due to anhedonia; it is simply impossible. And lastly, having just enough money - $75,000 a year - to cover necessities as well as a little extra.

This state of happiness is fleeting and always incomplete. It's the "pursuit of happiness" - a constant journey, not a destination. Perhaps we never can experience happiness in the exploited sense that it is made out to be. Appreciation of the present moment - and of what you have - friends, food, legal rights, etc. (whatever it is that you are thankful for) is also necessary.

"There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state to another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life."
—Alexandre Dumas
Maybe one needs to die in order to live. I felt like I was dead. With nothing to look forward to, zero worth, only pain and misery and my unruly mind landing my thoughts on the darkest of subjects. This is not life in any sense. Each day--a drag. I got to the point when I did not want to wake up, because living was truly a trying task—trying to shed off the thoughts of death.

—Excerpt from my journal, 3/18/10
"The Grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for."
—Allan K. Chalmers
Maybe happiness is having something to do, or, more generally, having a something that you look forward to doing—purpose.
—Excerpt from my journal, 3/18/10
So, here are the ingredients for happiness:
  • Mental and physical health (being reasonably free from, e.g., depression and chronic pain)
  • Something to do (to experience "flow" — an activity that utilizes your skills to the highest level)
  • Something to love (a lover, a friend, a pet, an activity)
  • Something to hope for (purpose)
  • Appreciate what you have - for to be happy there must be something that you want but don't have
  • Antidepressants, cognitive-behavioral therapy, meditation.

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