I Will Not Have A Depressing Depression

With the world careening towards great change, challenges and chaos, there is no shortage of links and lists to help us toughen up and get prepared to stay healthy, alert and nimble. But at the end of the day it is our own ‘self’, our mind we are alone with. It is here where fear creeps to the forefront and the darkness which is the unknown future appears so menacing.

Many who are making big changes to their lifestyle express the anger and frustration of not being able to shake friends and family awake, myself included. The adjustments I make will probably allow me to continue to be warm and fed, but leave me wallowing in what I think of as an advance case of ‘survivor’s guilt’. Knowing there will be extreme suffering and loss for everyone, loved ones and strangers alike, if the bottom falls out, how am I to reconcile this contradiction and seek my own happiness?

It is said misery loves company. And it is the rare person who doesn’t resent others basking in a happy disposition while their world seems to be falling apart. So is it wrong to be happy these days? Does it make it more acceptable to others and ourselves if we call it contentment or inner peace instead?

People have a difficult enough time finding happiness in what are generally perceived to be good times. So imagine what happens when fear sets in as the general population beings to recognize that the image of life as it was sold to them is not real and most certainly unattainable. How many people will be thinking about being happy then? Will those who seem to be happy be resented and despised for it? Should we also make ourselves miserable, or fake that we are, in order to appease those who are not?

I approach these questions in the same way I do about those hidden overhead oxygen masks on a plane. In times of emerging and dangerous change, if I don’t secure my own mask first I cannot inspire others to do likewise, meaning I cannot help others if I cannot help myself. I cannot ‘make’ anyone happy or sad; that is a personal decision and journey only they can make. Like so many other personal solutions I have discovered along the way, I must rely upon myself alone to sustain balance and not give in to the expectations of struggling my fellow travelers expect from me.

Funny how the act of digging a hole 'made me' happy.
Funny how the act of digging a hole 'made me' happy.

So how do I go about achieving some semblance of balance for myself while the wheels come off? I’m talking about the type of efforts that allow me to feel good at the end of the day during those quiet moments. This is where being my own expert is vital. No feel good guru, movement or cause can ‘make’ me into who I want to be.

For me it seems inner balance boils down to character and creativity. Character determines how I approach myself and others while processing life’s narration on a moment to moment basis. Creativity seems to be directly wired to my happy place.

I try in every way to apply creative endeavors for useful purposes. Planting my new strawberry patch, which may very well outlive me, was incredibly satisfying. Painting clay pots for indoor winter food and front porch summers will produce something I can always enjoy while adding a splash of color to life. I’ve downloaded and printed more sheet music than I may ever have time to tackle on the piano, but I get great satisfaction from nibbling away at the pile. These are a few ways I can look to myself rather than the insane world for some inner peace and tranquility.

My mobile herb garden.
My mobile herb garden.

If there is any good I can anticipate from the coming extreme change and chaos, it is perhaps the necessity for people to get back to learning. Not the traditional high school or college curriculum, but rather hands on tasks with tangible results. Challenging accepted science, medicine, and technology to explore better alternatives could be a backhanded blessing.

I can’t make people look up from their devices and problems to see the world through what others have described as my rose colored glasses. Being happy or even at peace is an individual choice. One must want it in order to find it, and then enjoy it.

There will always be some, especially those who choose to attempt to manipulate the emotions and actions of others, who will seek to bring down people who appear to be better off than they are. In recent times, better off was usually measured by apparent wealth. But even the richest people can resent someone basking in their own happiness despite all the adversity and pitfalls surrounding them.

I am not proposing we ignore the pain or suffering of others. What I worry about the most is not my own situation, for I am doing everything I know of or can learn to rely upon myself in every regard. But how I will process the overwhelming sadness is of utmost importance to me. I have no doubt I will experience it and for that period of time it will be painful. Acknowledging our empathy requires we face it, but we can then let it go and grow from having experienced it all.

What would add to my happiness or peace would be for others to see that it is alright to be upbeat and positive as we figure out life. Cog describes this as giving people permission, of ‘glowing’ them with a contagious smile and recognizing one another in a positive light.

In the end, I don’t think what we really want can be bought or measured in monetary terms. Most people just want to matter in the grand scheme of things. This is often why the wealthy donate money to building projects, so they may see their name on the top of a plaque. At the end of the day, at the end of our lives, we all want to know we made a difference in some way.

If you are reading this, chances are you are the part of society who is aware great change is underway and the seemingly unavoidable global economic depression which has yet to be officially announced will bring challenges and heartache in ways many dare not contemplate. Knowing these events have happened before and people endured, even thrived, is the key to giving ourselves a choice.

Happiness, contentment and inner peace are choices we can make. I choose not to have a depressing depression.

Sunsets are free.
Sunsets are free.
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