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.


Anonymous said...

I have spent many hours of skull sweat on this and similar subjects..and I am not sure I have many answers..but the questions are good to pursue.
Some famous person or another once said that metaphysics provide no answers, but the questions are beautiful. Heinlein I think it was.
I wish I had some sort of reliable measure by which I could take note of the societal pressures exerted on a cross section of the population over the last few generations..but that is a big hairy ball of wax...variables ever changing by locale, population group, religion, maxima nauseum..I strongly suspect that any result derived beyond a very narrow study would be wildly inaccurate.
Empirically however, it is fairly easy to observe that the pressures upon people today are vastly different than what was, and there seem to be so many of them, no matter what the age group.
I have been guilty of being the guy who wants to save a world which does not want to be saved..and I am a sore loser..
If one assumes that it is highly improbable that the world is going to get easier to deal with any time soon, then one must logically turn to methods of making the small bubble around the individual easier to cope with..
In the coming years this will become high art...
Increasingly we are finding that equine therapy (I don't like the term..but for lack of better..)is highly beneficial to almost anyone who is willing to hang out with a matters little what is actually done..from nothing to hot laps around a barrel course to the intricate maneuvers of the dressage course..simply being with the horse is often enough. That fact is something you do not want to argue with the folks of Mill Swamp. Yesterday..A little friction in my family, sort of a stressful day, Mary, Tori, and I stopped at the farm late yesterday evening, and I felt the need to go catch a very anxious horse I am messing with. (I was bugged because I made some mistakes the day before with him, and wanted to see if he came back..he did.)The great side effect was that Legacy, Curly, and Owl Prophet danced up to the gate to soak up some attention, and drained the stress right off of Victoria and Mary.
Being something of a social media junkie, I follow several organizations which egage in various forms of equine therapy, from Mill Swamp, to Neat, a more formal therapy organization in Nv, to Carousel Minis..who has a whole herd of mini and micro mini horses who travel to hospitals, hospices, the bedsides of those who are shut in or confined..seemingly with great success..
I see many pictures with sickness behind them, but with broad smiles and peace at the front..those smiles tell it all.
Horses cannot do it all alone, there is an entire arsenal of medical technology available to today, and it must be used as appropriate to each individual need..
But I do urge any, and everybody to find a way to spend some time with a horse..Results may vary, side effects include broad smiles, laughter, peaceful feelings, a little initial fear, and occasionally smelling like a horse.

I am not convinced that smelling like a horse is a bad tends to attract some pretty good people..more clinical trials needed..
If you are at a place in life where you feel you cannot cope, please, no matter how difficult it may seem..reach out and ask for help. no matter your station in life, you are human...and important. -Lloyd

Anonymous said...

A thought in addendum: Many people who suffer chronic illness, particularly those that come with prolonged physical pain, use what is called the Spoon system..
We are a society of chronic over achievers, and I notice that it is often certain people who pressure others to do the over achieving..but I digress..
The idea is, that a person has just so much energy, so much will, only so much that they can do without debilitating themselves completely every day...This energy is divided by the denomination of "spoons," which are budgeted and spent on tasks and activities by that person's prioritites. "I am all out of Spoons means it is time to rest and to fight another day, as it were.
I personally prefer "Round Tuits" and the Californio Vaqueros concept of "Manana," and "Poco a Poco," or little by little.
Round tuits in my mind are more valuable than dollars, and more cannot be acquired by monetary trade. Be sure to budget some for time with a horse, after all, the very first rule of budgeting is, "Pay yourself first." -Lloyd

Anonymous said...

Thank You Steve! Thank you!
You too Lloyd!

This article (and the comments) speak to me more deeply than you can know. I have spent years battling things that most people do not understand. Sometimes I do not even understand them myself. I fought for years to try to muddle through it without medical help because I was literally Terrified of the diagnosis, the label and the stigma that come with both. I have been on that medication roller-coaster. I take my meds for a while and I start to feel better and decide that I no longer need them and/or that the money is better spent somewhere else and I go off of them again. The medication battle with me is mostly that I hate the idea that there is some part of me that can not be normal without medicinal help. The most consistently beneficial "medication" in my life has always been my horses. In finding the Colonial Spanish, I also discovered this concept of purpose that you are speaking of in your article. I don't know that I have ever been so passionate about something or had something that I could completely immerse myself in(outside of my family) until these horses found me.

I absolutely love the phrase "Shooting For Zero". It so eloquently sums up many of my days.

I was drawn to your program, through these horses, way before I knew of your work with Veterans with PTSD and also before I was diagnosed with PTSD (among other diagnosis') myself. I am very proud to call you folks my friends and super proud to have some of my horses involved with your program!

Keep up the good work and Thank You!