Sunday, August 24, 2014
Happiness Is Not For Everyone
Lincoln understood this. Shenck's great book, "Lincoln's Melancholy", showed Lincoln's incredible insight into depression and showed the strategies that he used to fight it off. In a feel good society like ours it is heretical to consider any coping strategy that does not include full recovery of the ability to be happy.
That is a shame. That sets the bar too high for many people.
Too many people with serious depression put themselves in shackles by ruling out some recovery mechanisms without out giving them a chance to work. It is pitiful to hear young people who should know better refuse to consider medication because they .....(fill in what ever meaningless excuse you would like here e.g. "don't like pills." or "knew someone who tried that and it did not work." The list is endless). It is particularly disheartening to realize that so many people equate anti depression medication with prescription pain pills and refuse to take them because they fear addiction.
No, every advantage that modern medicine gives in the fight against depression should be fully utilized. But at the same time their limitations must be recognized.
Unfortunately, not everyone can be happy. Many people have to simply shoot for zero--those wonderful days when the pain merely equals the pleasure, instead of dwarfing it. Those rare days of respite should be savored. They are worth working for--whether that work means hard exercise in the sunlight, remembering to take medication, or finding the time to distract the mind with music, or any other creative endeavor.
For such people shooting for zero is not surrender. It is victory. The greatest virtue is kindness, but courage and resilience run close seconds. Shooting for zero takes courage, but most of all it takes resilience--getting up every morning and doing what must be done regardless of the day's particular horrors to come.
But is such a life worth having? Yes, if one replaces the search for happiness with the search for meaning. A life with meaning, a life of service to others is not subjectivly better than a life of happiness, but it certainly is objectively better.
Happiness is not for everyone, but satisfaction can be. A life with meaning will lead to satisfaction.
And satisfaction can lead to peace. And peace is good enough.
We do not misuse any phrase in the English language more than the phrase "good enough." In its normal usage is actually means that the subject is not "good enough", e.g. " Well I guess that will be a good enough job for now."
No, when something is "good enough" it is both good and it is enough.
And peace is good.
And peace is enough.
Posted by Steve Edwards