Friday, November 7, 2014

The pursuit of happiness (or, rather, meaning)

Clearly, I have put a lot of thought into the concept of happiness. I have always struggled with a certain darkness and spent most of my late teens and 20's battling debilitating depression.

Ironically, one of the things that came out of my accident and subsequent experiences, is that, for the first time in my adult life, I no longer took anti-depressants. This is the result of a number of things. Perhaps it is partly age, experience (experience = making lots of mistakes) and maybe evolving out of all my growing pains/angst; part of it is that, for the first time in my life, I had to tolerate a really shitty situation. In the past, if I hadn't been happy with things (e.g. an academic path, a job, a relationship) I could just move to something else. In this situation, I had nowhere to run to and was forced to endure.

I read Frankl's short but powerful text, "Man's Search for Meaning" a year or two after my accident. Frankl articulated what I had always struggled with, and perhaps one of the root causes of my depression. This article does a good job of summarizing themes that have dominated my life. I know I am no hedonist, and that simply experiencing pleasure, does not make me happy.

One question I still struggle with is whether happiness is a choice or not. Sometimes biological factors seem to be very strong; yet, why is it that quite a lot of people can find happiness amidst pretty poor circumstances and others, manage to grab failure from the jaws of relatively good circumstances?

Anyway, a topic worthy of an entire blog of it's own.

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