“The Ultimate Secret of Happiness/Unhappiness”
(On account of all others are engaged in being happy)
Unhappy is such a small word for something that has much significance within the plot of our life. It does not, for me, convey the full curse that being unhappy actually means.
To be truly unhappy is to be a wretch among people. Unhappiness is a word that cannot convey the hopelessness of feeling that this is the only feeling that you will now be capable of having and that possibly it is the last feeling you will have.
I have been caught up recently in an examination of my unhappy state. It has occupied my days and nights for some weeks. I have a notion that I am unable to experience what it is to be happy and have spent many hours poring over articles written about how to be happy and considering the purchase of books that will, I feel, offer the answer I want for my eventual release from my unhappy state.
Am I lacking a basic truth of what happiness is? Is it fair to believe that I alone am unable to be happy?
Our former Prime Minister, David Cameron, commissioned a survey a few years ago into the state of happiness in Great Britain and several “happiness surveys” can be taken to make sure that you are truly happy on the internet, some of them via university websites. There are “Happiness Projects” that one can take part in and the author Gretchen Rubin has a book with this as its title, whereby she tests differing hypotheses of what could potentially bring us eternal happiness.
Does Cameron, Rubin or the Pennsylvania University or indeed the proponents of the movement of positive psychology share a secret that is as covert an operation as any within the military? It feels that way to my mind? Is there a secret circle of the underworld where only the initiated achieve happiness?
The word unhappy has its origins in Middle English to convey that which caused misfortune. I want to know if being happy is a state that I can meet permanently or, if, as I am doubtful, that it has more to do with one’s experiences and certain moments.
As for me, “feeling low” is almost, although not quite, a set-point for my disposition. My default I think is not to smile without cause; I need to act within context for this. In comparison, my younger sister has an available smile that lights her eyes and delights those in her vicinity. I, however, have often been observed as temperamental for lack of facial expression, also known as “The Lesley Look”.
Notwithstanding, I know myself to be in possession of a vulgar sense of humour which I like to use to cause consternation to those who are in receipt of it; I find it brings me great enjoyment.
Why it is that unhappiness settled itself within me then? I am convinced that there are assorted causes about this. I have a genetic component; there are seven people within my modern family that have suffered from mental distress and most certainly an infamous long-dead grandmother, four times removed, who was almost certainly deranged, judging her by her actions. I will show more of her in later articles for she is both interesting and worth more than a passing mention.
Feeling low will fasten itself to the fabric of life, for every person, at some chapter. No one person will be immune and it is no respecter of class, income, status, place, gender or culture.
I have felt a great deal of self-pity in relation to the life events that I consider have had a destructive effect on my mental health. I have felt that I lacked the skill to overcome adversity, whereupon I have heaped upon my mental and physical being added difficulties that I feel would not have happened if I had been but more resourceful in handling these perceived calamitous events.
And thus, a number of years passed in this unhappy mode of being. In the course of time my mind and body were beaten. That which is delayed will eventually have its destination.
On www.amazon.co.uk there is the availability of writing about happy or happiness. There are thousands of books within the self-help, psychology and related sections on how to get or be happy. There is also a smaller choice on unhappiness, especially in relation to depression.
I’ve become obsessed with winning the happiness game. As I am enduring the agony that is OCD, I find that I am easily persuaded to take up a new obsession regularly. As a depressive also, I want to be in a state of happiness and joy every day, all day. Is it a possibility or a pipe dream? And so I thought that I would buy several books with the hope that within the pages I will find The Secret or The Way to everlasting happiness. But then I held back. At the time of wanting to make this purchase, I could not fathom why I held back; I want to be happy and these books may help.
It has taken me some time. I have the secret to happiness or unhappiness determined by point of view. It is not of the earth shattering kind though, only this; happiness, for me is not a state of mind or being that I will inhabit permanently. For those persons that have achieved this, I commend you; you are truly one of the fortunate. As for me my proper place is a feeling low state of mind; I am the glass is half-empty mentality. My disposition is not one of optimism, it has some pessimism and most notably, I prefer to see that which is real. I am freed from the idealism of our world.
The secret is to take the moments in life, the days, the weeks, the events that have joy, laughter and happiness as part of them and know that these moments are contained within these parts of life alone. They will have their ending, as most things do. Happiness is not an infinite bounty. I am accepting of this notion. I look forward to these instants and I mourn their passing. I will make the effort to enjoy them as they come and be more present to make memories from them.
There will, of course be the counterpart to the happy moments in life, the poorer cousin, the sad, bad moments. Each of us will have them, for no one person is immune. Tragic events, difficult people, hard decisions, life; many scenarios that move us to feel hopeless, and we need to get through all of these. Happiness does not factor into these. The fact that these are something that everyone will face in their lives does not make it easy to overcome. The knowledge that there is someone worse off than us at certain times is unhelpful.
I think that we should be allowed to feel down, it’s appropriate under some circumstances. I am going to disagree with those who say that we can find happiness (always), because that is impossible and the search for constant happiness I think, will serve to make us (me) unhappy.
My secret is to accept that I will at times, be unhappy and yes, suffer episodes of severe depression. I also accept that these times will be temporary in my life. I will accept that I will also experience times of joy, being happy and even carefree, and that these too are also temporary. I will not necessarily like it.
What is it that can change then? Can I be happier?
What can change is my ability in doing business with the troubling times in my life. I can learn effective methods of overcoming challenging situations. I can stay honest to my beliefs. I can learn to let go of fear of unknown outcomes and the fear of other’s opinions and learn to live my life and not a version of my life decreed by another.
I will not always appreciate happy moments and I will not always comprehend the unhappy moments. I do not need to know the why. I can be in charge of my thoughts and behaviour though and that will make me happier.