This is a topic more in depth covered in the Self Esteem section but I will cover the basics here, so this an introduction of sorts to happiness.
What is happiness?
To be honest, I don’t have a clue. With Dystymia knowing when I’m happy is incredibly difficult. My go to reaction when asked ‘How do you feel?’ is usually ‘shit’. I can’t help it. My brain can only be retrained so far so fast.
So how do I know when I’m cured?
Well, ‘cured’ is a very heavy word in issues of the mind. Acceptance of whether your condition can be cured is important. With Dysthymia I have to accept that a cure isn’t quite possible but changing my thought patterns is. Being aware of negative thoughts, negative feelings and negative triggers helps me create a plan of action to deal with these things. So in my case to have happiness I must use constant vigilance. By being vigilant, I can anticipate a mood drop and attempt to stop it or slow it down before it can hit me like a brick over the head.
So can you be cured?
If so, then your therapist will be able to advise on when you are over the line. If you can’t be cured then you must learn to cope. And coping isn’t hanging on as some people view it, I don’t view my coping as hanging on. I view it as living life contrasted to my other possible options.
You’re probably feeling I’m dodging the question of ‘How do I quantify my happiness?’. The thing is though, happiness is subjective. I can’t tell you when you’re happy. Just as your therapist won’t be able to tell you either. If you’ve never been happy, what I will say is actually, you have been happy.
If I asked you to close your eyes and think of the good moments in your life, you’d be able to name at least a few but if you really tried you could probably rattle of book full of stories. We all have a story, it’s not just celebrities that have lived lives worth writing about, we all have a life story worth writing about.
So you have been happy… What did it feel like?
You need to realise you can’t feel like that as a baseline, you can actually be too euphoric, it’s literally called ‘happiness syndrome’ and it’s a serious mood disorder just as depression is.
But what you can take from those moments is that you do in fact know what it feels like to not hate yourself, hate your life, be depressed, be blue. Although those moments were ephemeral, they were moments in which you weren’t thinking negatively. They were moments if even only briefly that you weren’t ‘depressed Ethan’ or whatever your name is. They were moments of blissful unadulterated joy.
By realising you have had happy moments you know it’s possible to be happy. You may just have to work on being happy more often a bit harder than your neighbour, but you know what? So what? Honestly, so what? You appreciate more what you work hard for than what you are given. If you can appreciate your moments of happiness more than another person then instead of you looking at them with envy at their seemingly constant happiness it will be them looking at you wondering ‘How is (s)he so content?’. And you’ll know you are content because when happiness is there you don’t shrug it off, you notice it, you appreciate it and you pat yourself on the back for working to make it happen.
Can happiness be quantified? No. But you can still feel it. You just have to work on it and you have to recognise it. This is a very difficult topic, with much to be said about it and that’s why this is just a snack size bite of the content regarding happiness. Leave a comment and let me know what you think! Have you figured out how to quantify your own happiness?