Saturday, August 15, 2009

Happiness is not a choice.

So I was reading a blog of a friend of mine. At the bottom of it there was this quote.

"Happiness is a choice, not an event. Success is a goal, not a gift or a right. Victims have no power, people who act have plenty."

I want to focus on the first sentence. There rest of the quote seems true enough, although the victim part may raise my ire. While I also don't think happiness is an event, or at least I don't think that it is, I don't think it's a choice either. At least not for me.

If happiness is a choice why would anyone choose anything but happiness? The fact that there are people who are sad disproves the "choice" aspect of emotions. You feel what you feel. There are a variety of things that cause you to feel what you feel. To some degree you can decide what your response to stimuli is. But there is so much that is beyond a persons ability to do so.

Case in point, me. My brain, or emotions, or both make me feel sad. It's not a simple matter of saying to my self "My brain is inexplicably trying to make me depressed. But I will be happy instead." It doesn't work that way. At least not for me. Maybe "normal" people can out think their melancholy. In that case happiness really is a choice for them. And I can can kind of see how that can work. I've out thought myself away from happiness. I was taking Prozac and it seemed like they were taking the edge off the sadness. As soon as I realized this any good they did stopped working. So I don't know. Maybe that's not quite the same thing.

So then I thought if happiness is not a choice what is it? That's when it hit me.

Happiness is not a choice it's a medical condition.

I'm not choosing to be depressed it's a medical condition. Depression is recognized as such so wouldn't the inverse of it likewise be a medical condition. Makes sense to me. Although it is kind of sad once you think about it. Happy people are not really happy they're healthy. Depressed people are not really sad their sick.

Do I really think this?

I don't know.

But I will say this. Happiness is not a choice. At least not entirely


NerdOneirik said...

Here, here! This is pretty much what I try and say to people that always tell me to just "Buck up". While I *try* and refrain from punching them in the face, I try and look at it from their point of view. They're not "sick" they don't understand how hard it is to be happy. They just don't. It still irks me and tickles my knee-jerk-anger reaction whenever anyone says that depressed people just need to "get happy" or "get active". Yes, because it's so totally that easy. As I have stated MANY times in my blog, this is NOT A CHOICE IT'S AN ILLNESS.

Yeah, it sucks but I think we're stronger for fighting it and we'll keep trying to explain it to people who's brains are healthy in hopes that some of them at least TRY and understand. Sometimes we're not living, we're fighting.

something more than ordinary said...

"Sometimes we're not living, we're fighting."

Boy do I hear that!

And it's not like people have this same mentality with any other illness. You never hear,
"I have cancer."
"Oh, just get over it."

Don't they think I would be happy if I could?! It's frustrating sometimes.

Anonymous said...

I suffer from severe depression. Happy moments are hard to come by. I do understand exactly how it feels as well as how you can scoff at the idea that happiness is a choice. I did however, go a step further than analyzing this saying mentally. I put it into action. If someone is going to tell me something that I don't believe, I am sure as hell going to be able say to them I tried....and mean it. When I first heard this, I thought I want to be happy. That's what I want more than anything so it is not a choice! But I gave it a test run expecting certain results. First, I thought about what I hate about my life. One being how angry I get and how much yelling I have to do at my kids because they just don't listen. I tell them things 40 times a day even stupid shit and they just can't.....that's it, stupid shit....why the fuck do I even bother with the stupid, inconsequential shit. The more I repeat myself, the angrier I get, the angrier I get, the more I yell, then when something even remotely goes wrong I explode. So, going through the grocery store, I let my eleven year old push the cart and didn't let myself get frustrated over the swerving through the aisles, and I let my 9 year old lead me through the store by my sleeves, not letting myself get irritated at the fact that this took a little longer than usual, and that I wasn't in complete control of everything. I'll tell you what, I noticed my 9y/o's smile and how cute her giggle is, and the look of achievement on my 11 y/o's face and by the time we left the store, when I would normally be irritated beyond belief, and demanding silence because I asked 100 times for them to settle down and they just couldn't, I was smiling. Things went smoothly that night, homework wasn't a fight because I was more relaxed so were they, and when I went to bed, it was the first time since I can remember not playing out the day's events over and over, trying to shut it off and wanting to scream. It was the first night of peace. I'm not saying I'm 100 percent happy or that it's not hard work, it's excruciating, and I relapse all of the time, but then again 20 years of anger and depression doesn't fix itself overnight. I have already seen a drastic change and am willing to continue trying as long as it takes. Oh and I don't let my kids get away with anything, I just try not to sweat the small stuff.--A lot less insane

Anonymous said...

Some people would like to believe happiness is something we lose and find through the choices we make. The truth is the only thing we lose is sight of who we are and mostly because of the choices we've had to make. joe w