STOP SEEKING HAPPINESS

A do-over post. Not because the Word Press prompt called for a do-over, but because I pushed the wrong key yesterday and did not intend to publish what appeared yesterday.  Here is what I intended to say, but first a picture.

From the Washington Post Article that  the picture caption links too

  “Psychologists point out that emotions are adaptive: They make us change behavior to help us survive. Anger prepares us to fight; fear helps us flee. But what about sadness? Studies show that when we are sad, we think in a more systematic manner. Sad people are attentive to details and externally oriented, while happy people tend to make snap judgments that may reflect racial or sex stereotyping.”

Happiness feels good, but being happy is a bad goal.  It sells well, but stands up poorly.  Instead work to endure the bad times, improve the moment, and savor what good does come your way.  As the Irish say, “Enough is a feast.”

Here is what Rosalind Robertson, a woman who personally knows the harm done by the happiness gurus, suggests for staying strong.  Don’t have time to read so much.  I get that. which is why I highlight my ideas about the best of her post. But I really hope you will read it.

The DIY Couturier • 21 Tips to Keep Your Shit Together When You’re Depressed.

Rosalind would not be described as a happy camper, nor does she want that name.  She is, however, a survivor. From the above article:

A while ago, I penned a fairly angry response to something circulating on the internet – the 21 Habits of Happy People. It pissed me off beyond belief, that there was an inference that if you weren’t Happy, you simply weren’t doing the right things.

I’ve had depression for as long as I can remember. It’s manifested in different ways. I did therapy. I did prozac. I did more therapy. My baseline is melancholic. I’d just made peace with it when I moved, unintentionally, to a place that had markedly less sunshine in the winter. I got seasonal depression. I got that under control. Then I got really, really sick. Turns out it’s a permanent, painful genetic disorder. My last pain-free day was four years ago.

So, this Cult of Happy article just set me off. Just… anger. Rage. Depression is serious – debilitating, often dangerous, and it’s got an enormous stigma. It leaves people to fend for themselves.

I so agree with her last sentence, but not just regarding depression, but almost every life blow.  Those of you who read me already know that I believe seeking happiness can keep you on the path to misery.

EMOTIONAL FITNESS TIPS ABOUT AVOIDING THE HAPPINESS TRAP

Rosalind’s 21 tips include many of my 12 Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises or other preachings.  Hoping to entice you to read her article,  I am going to highlight three of her ideas. I am changing the order a just a bit.  I picked these three because I don’t emphasize them enough.

 Tip one:   “Everyone has shit they’ve got to deal with. What you have been saddled with is your shit. Recognize, just as you’re not alone, you’re also not unique. The grass may look greener, you may be jealous or envious of others who don’t have to deal with depression, but you likely do not know everything that’s going on with them.”

Tip two:  “Face a window as often as you can – at work, at home. Look out into the world. Watch. Observe. Try to find something you find pretty or interesting to focus on. And, handily remember that one in five of those people out there feel the way you do.”

Tip three: “Avoid fictional drama and tragedy like the plague. No Grey’s Anatomy, no to The Notebook, or anything that won a Pulitzer prize. You’ve got enough going on In Real Life. Comedy only.  Or trashy stuff. Old episodes of WonderWoman? I’ve got the box set. Mindless drivel, like the latest CGI blockbuster. Or clever, funny books. David Sedaris. Jenny Lawson. Fiction exists to elicit emotion, and the emotion you need to express most right now is laughter.”

I would add to that avoid too much news, the talking heads are particularly dangerous to your mental health.  I get most of my news from the written word and limit that. You need to know the weather, where traffic tie-ups are, and a tiny bit about the state of the world.

Tip four:    “Depression will lie to you. Depression will try to tell you what others are thinking.  That you are unloved and unworthy, that others think little of you or don’t care – or even wish you harm. You are not a psychic. Keep repeating that. “I am not a psychic”.  Repeat. The only way to know what another person is thinking is to up and ask them.”

STAY STRONG  

Life is hard and we all struggle, some far more than others.  The fact is when we suffer we suffer and we are the ones who need to deal with it.  However, as Rosalind also points out we should not go it alone.  We all need an Added Care Team. At the same time, we need to be careful who we put on that team. As does Rosalind our Added Care Teams must be composed not just of friends and family, but of competent professionals as well.

Two promotional reminders.  The Emotional Fitness Newsletter will start arriving every other week.  If you are interested in subscribing see the side bar. All my books are on my Amazon.com Author’s page.  If you found this post of particular interest, you might want to buy Twelve Easy Exercises to Tame Mad, Bad, Sad Feelings.  Less expensive than a Starbucks Latte and lasts longer.

As usual thank all of you for supporting me. I am so lucky so many of you are part of my Added Care Team.

Katherine

DISCLAIMERS

The first and most important: Emotional Fitness Training is a self-help and coaching program. It is not therapy. Nor does it replace therapy when therapy is needed. If the exercises and support provided here do not help you gain control of negative feelings, more may be needed. Support groups, coaching, and therapy are other paths to emotional fitness.

Anyone with suicidal thoughts, thoughts of harming other people, or who enage in harmfur or dangerous out-of-control behaviors needs to get professional help. Anyone with serious suicidal or homicidal plans need an immediate psychiatric evaluation.  Call a suicide hot line if you are unsure of where or how to get help. Suicidal hotlines USA.  Lfe can be better.

The second: I have dysgraphia, a learning disability that peppers my writing with mis-spelling and punctuation errors. All my books are professionally edited. Not so my blog post. Although I use all the grammar and spelling checks, mistakes slip by. If they bother you, seek another source of support for life’s less savory moments.   Life is too short to let problems you can avoid irate you.

2 Comments

  1. I am particularly taken with tips 3 & 3, and I wish more people knew these two things. I know it sounds strange to say tips 3 & 3, but both 3s are really useful and should be shared.

Agree or disagree, comments are always welcomed.