As a Depressed Person (omg, did he really start out a blog post about happiness by talking about depression?), I spend a lot of time thinking about happiness on one level or another.
In these arbitrarily-Western societies (commonly known as the United States of America) there is an extra emphasis on the idea of happiness in the framing months of the year.
December: Christmas! Holidays! Family! Fireplaces! Hot chocolate ‘cos hell yeah hot chocolate!
January: New Year! A time for change! Second chances! Sparkling grape juice ‘cos hell yeah sparkling grape juice!
Chuck Wendig, a man whose beard I hold in high regard, pondered twenty five ponders on the ponderific called happiness. It pleases me to contribute to this discussion, and so I shall.
1) Happiness is a fickle bitch
With the depression rearing it’s depressing head at a semi-dependable cycle, I know for at least part of the time, I’m going to think that everything is the absolute worst no matter what. Even if today is, both objectively and subjectively better than yesterday, that does not stop my neurotransmitters from pulling a fart-and-walk-away on my consciousness. You can usually tell I’ve suffered from such a drive-by stanking by the look on my face.
My point is that one’s perception of happiness is, to some degree, controlled by the balance of chemicals in one’s brain. If they get out of wack, no amount of good fortune can force me to a good mood. It can clear the path, help me find my way back to at least general contentment, but the auto-on feature on my Happy-Matic 9000 is bust. (I broke the battery case when I threw it on the ground in a futile rage and the damn thing won’t hold a charge now.)
2) Happiness is a choice
Being contradictory makes me happy.
Okay, other than that, a certain mindset is required for happiness to be achieved. No amount of good fortune can budge me entirely off a bad mood if I really wanna be there.
3) Happiness is important
I need to check my sources on Wikipinionated, but science declares that a human brain without some source of happiness will implode, ripping a rift in spacetime and sinking the earth into its giant, pathetic gravity well. That’s why the Large Hadron Collider is so dangerous — it’s powered by children’s tears.
Basically, you will shut down without something to live for. Everyone needs to feel happy sometimes.
4) Happiness is overrated
At least in western society, it feels like we’re all chasing the dragon, looking for that theoretical summit of happiness. From this peak, I shall look down upon the struggling climbers with joy in my heart and song — promptly causing an avalanche to collapse upon the lazy wannabes camping further down.
Happiness, most likely, is where you are. Maybe you need to change your situation to better appreciate it, or maybe you need to change your attitude toward what you have already.
Don’t keep trying to reach that next level, a better house, a cleaner desk, a newer video game console, a convenient and portable oral intravenous setup to funnel coffee straight into your mouth.
Look around and appreciate what you’ve got.
However, on that note…
5) Happiness guilt is bullshit
Apologies to those who don’t deal with depression, because I’m not sure if you ever deal with this.
My depression is tricky. I know me well enough to get under my skin, and the depression is happy to leech onto that knowledge.
At certain impressionable periods in my life, I was educated about the relative quality of my life and how it is always better than someone’s.
Yes, that is true. Logically, I understand that. We can’t all be Agrijag (though even he had a pretty sweet temple / monument garden chronicling his many lives, so that’s something).
But that can be fertile ground for malignant thoughts, in the theme of “everyone is worse off than me and still I feel this way I must be a terrible person I’m the worst.”
Suffice to say… Not helpful?
As Presiding Ponderous Parliamentary Pontiff of Pointless …er… desPondency, I nearby decree:
6) It’s okay to be happy
Not only that, but it’s okay to be happy where you are, no matter how crummy the circumstances. Sure, hope, strive to move forward, because complacency is almost as bad as unhappiness (or perhaps worse, because it does not inspire change).
All of this is relative. Situations are unique to each person and each passing moment, and I can’t hope to cover all of reality.
If happiness is cooking on your brain pan, though, it deserves some stimulation. I welcome any constructive thoughts on the topic, because I will probably have it in mind for the next forever or two.