Friday, September 2, 2011

HAPPINESS IS HARD WORK

I started to read an article the other day* about slightly depressed people seeing the world more accurately than non-depressed people (and also severely depressed people). Something about the lack of "positive illusion", from self-image to understanding of conditions in the world. I was interrupted and didn't finish the article.

But it got me thinking.

I mentioned it to a coworker. Rather than asking more about the theory or expressing an opinion regarding its truthfulness, she shook her head and raised a hand. One of those do-not-pass,-do-not collect-$200 moves.

"I don't think about things like that." She launched a smile. "I just accept the world as it is. That makes life so much easier."

I looked at our charcoal and taupe office, the mundane tasks we repeat hundreds of times a week. I understood the glazing over, driving past and tuning out of the truths of the world or our own situation (which likely little resembles the dreams and aspirations we had in our early years, our formative years, our experimental years). I understood, but the statement also blew my fucking mind.

I consider looking at something, whether an object a person or an idea, and asking what else it could be to be the highest form of hope. And I think that accepting the world as it is is tantamount to saying you've run out of hope. That you've given up. This is one of my biggest fears, along with having my appendix burst and kill me, or having my hamstring sliced by so shadow-dwelling foe.

Of course, by accepting the world as it is - free of menacing appendices and knife-wielding fiends laying in wait - my coworker is probably more content than I. I like to think that, by recognizing flawed and incomplete things and working to improve them, I can occasionally elevate myself from content to truly happy. Even if it's only for a moment.

* Please note that my definition of "the other day" spans from three days ago to thirteen years ago, give or take about a month.

3 comments:

  1. This is a subject I wonder about all the time. I think about happiness a lot, and wonder if it's a good thing that I am happy in a life that would seem utter shit to other people. Hmm.... I guess as long as it works for me.

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  2. Hubby and I have this conversation all the time. I look at the world through rose colored glasses. I don't worry about all the bad because if I did, I would never be happy. I would always be worrying. So I don't. Hubby watches the news. Gets upset at what's going on. I stick my head in the sand. And boy, I'm that much happier. :)

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  3. You have to close yourself off from a good deal of outside stimulation or it becomes overwhelming - whether it's good or bad, but especially when it's bad. And, while our own lives might be going okay, we're too connected to avoid reminders of tragedy at every turn, the vast majority of which we can do nothing about.

    I think it's about directing your energies toward turning possibilities into realities. Both of you are engaged in the act of changing your worlds with your writing. You're creating, and putting effort into bettering your abilities, and this is hard work. If you were content to exist, you wouldn't be driven to write.

    Now I'm going to have to figure out a blog post on the drive to write. All this deep thinking - and on a weekend no less.

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