Many people believe happiness is a choice. Yet, for someone living with clinical depression … is it REALLY a choice?
I wish I had been brave enough to ask my brother about this … because, honestly, I just do not think it was possible for him to simply choose to be happy. It’s so much more complicated than that.
On this topic Brené Brown, whose conversations about courage have helped inspire Courage to Caregivers, interviewed happiness researcher Shawn Achor, who spoke about his own experience with depression and feeling unhappy:
“I have to be vulnerable by letting people know that I fall all the time. But for me going through depression was one of those places that as soon as I say that to a group of people, the entire conversation changes. They open up in a completely different way. And they realize that I’m being real, I'm not just talking about science, I’m not just talking about something that’s ‘be happy all the time and everything will work out great.’ We’re talking about ‘how do you construct happiness when it’s not easy’ and I’ve been in that place.”
Speaking from that experience, Achor believes that change … going from unhappiness to happiness … is possible. People can go from “brokenness” to a place where they can “start to construct meaning and be able to share that with other people.”
“I don’t think that unhappiness is the opposite of happiness,” he says. “To me, the opposite of happiness is apathy, where you’ve lost that joy moving toward your potential. You’ve lost the ‘why’ of why I want to change. If I told you change is possible, if you don’t have a ‘why’ to do that, it’s very hard to move forward …”
Thus, happiness is a pursuit that can be achieved through effort and motivation … knowing the ‘why.’ And for us, our efforts in self-care are motivated by the ‘why’ of our desire for happiness both for ourselves and our loved ones.
Wishing you true happiness in this holiday season and the new year,
Founder and Executive Director