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Posts Tagged ‘sadness’

Searching for Happiness?

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

Could the pursuit for happiness be a major factor in the feelings of sadness and depression? This may sound like a strange question for a therapist to ask, but I like to get people thinking of things they may not be inclined to consider.

Let me say one thing: If you are experiencing depression or sadness, which are different, I have been there. This is in no way a commentary on your personal experience.

A Google search for “happiness” will give you, within a half a second, 327 million results.happiness-img

If happiness was something to be found, we could find it easily with that much information available. Yet here we are in the 21st century, and judging by titles in the self-help section, happiness continues to be elusive. According to the World Health Organization and other studies, as many as 9.5 percent of adults experience symptoms of major depression in any given year. These studies also identify depression as the leading cause of disability in the United States. Fifty years ago, the average age of onset was 29. Today it is fourteen. How can this be?

Parents are focusing more on giving their children everything they want to “make them happy” and “build their self-esteem.” We read the latest books promising a road to happiness for our self and our children. We purchase all the material items a commercial tells us will make us happy. Like changing shoes, men and women change families with the discomfort of their “happiness” being threatened.

Back to the question.

Could the search for happiness be a major factor in the increasing rate of depression? Here are some things to consider:

  1. Over 50 years ago, people were less focused on being happy and more focused on doing the right thing based on their values. Happiness was not mentioned as a primary motivator.
  2. When we search for happiness, it’s a thing to be found. A thing found can also be lost or stolen, which implies that it is outside of ourselves and out of our control. It’s why we look for it in other people, drugs, alcohol, religion (I mean the rules, not the relationship with God), or any other myriad of addictions.
  3. Those people who seek to become healthy – physically, relationally, mentally, spiritually – usually report higher levels of life satisfaction than those who seek to find “happiness.” People who look strive for health find happiness. People who strive for happiness find neither happiness nor health.

Focusing on happiness to get you “out” may be like searching for a home by looking exclusively at the paint color in the closet. If you are experiencing sadness, grief, or a Major Depressive Disorder, please understand that you can overcome.

Take care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Surround yourself with safe people that will challenge you to grow in those areas and who will accept your challenges as well.

Just remember, “happiness” is a byproduct not a thing to be found or the end goal.

If you find yourself wondering why you can’t seem to find happiness or satisfaction or a relationship that is not as fulfilling as you hoped, come see us. We can help.

Chris R. Giles, MS, LMFT