Sunday, 25 June 2017

Finding that happy place

Depression, as we know, is an illness of the mind. That being so, some view it as a condition that can be cured, or at least managed, by the power of the mind alone. In over-simplified terms, 'will ourselves into a happier state'.

In relation to non-clinical depression that most of us go through on occasions, there is merit to that. For example, and not meaning to be facetious here, there's no point getting ourselves down over such an uncontrollable thing as the weather. If it's raining there's nothing we can do about it, but we can take measures to prevent ourselves getting wet all the same.

Bogotá D.C., Colombia, viewed from a high ...
Happiness isn't always just in the mind; the place plays its part, too ...
If it's our routine and work that has us at a low ebb, the old saying 'a change is as good as a rest' might be the remedy. That's perhaps easier for some to do than others; it depends on our education, employment position, financial standing and such like. (It must be noted here that it is, generally speaking, those who have access to more opportunities who tend to find themselves in thinking this way.)

Yet for others, whether it's momentary 'depression' or one that has been clinically diagnosed, the place of residence plays its part. That is to say they're content at what they are at, but they feel they're doing it in the wrong place, usually inhabited by people not quite of their ilk.

In such a scenario, 'simply' willing yourself out of this delicate mental state is nigh on impossible. You basically have to get up and go to feel happier, but the get-up-and-go required to do that is often lacking, especially in major depression cases.

In milder instances, a short break from our normal environment does the trick; the key is to take them regularly. (For the record, while we like Bogotá, getting out of the metropolis is needed every now and again.) For most working-to-middle class people, regardless of marital status or offspring to cater for, 'escaping' on a regular basis for short periods is doable.

It's a far more complicated issue, though, if you feel no love at all for where you are, to the point that the actual place and people are the chief reasons for your depressed state, yet you have a significant other who is content there and has no desire to leave. An immovable object meets an unstoppable force. Either a compromise is reached or the relationship is pretty much doomed.

There are those who say that love conquers all and if it doesn't then it wasn't meant to be. Perhaps that's the case. 'If you loved me enough you'd live with me even in hell' kind of thing. However, staying in a place you detest for the sole purpose of maintaining a long-standing relationship, and one that seemed solid at that, certainly doesn't seem like the key to a life full of happiness.

Finding that happy state isn't always a matter of 'mind over mud' so to put it. On occasions that 'mud' you're treading on plays a big part, for better or for worse.
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Sunday, 11 June 2017

Things could always be better

When we're going through difficult or frustrating times, there is the old saying of 'Things could be worse' to make us feel a bit better.

For most, if not all people, that is the case. Things could always be worse. (OK, there may exist a person who compared to everybody else on the planet is faring the worst, but even that individual could, in theory, find solace in the words above.)
Do you see the glass half empty or half full ..?
Some people are happy with what they have, others not ...
It's similar to those who espouse to either the glass-half-full or glass-half-empty mentality. It depends on how you look at it, and in any one person this could change from day to day without there being any noticeable change in the actual circumstances.

Yet, the argument against the glass-half-full/things-could-be-worse outlook is that, in certain cases, it promotes mediocrity, curbs development.

For example, in countries that have had a less-than-glorious past, such as my native Ireland and here in Colombia, the desire to continue to try and improve things isn't always apparent, be it at a government or individual level. One reason (of many), perhaps, why the oft-criticised public transport system in Bogotá splutters unspectacularly along (the Transmilenio is one thing, but many of the SITP bus routes are in disarray -- let's not go there, again). There are, needless to say, other examples that we won’t get into here.

Those in the glass-half-empty brigade are often accused of being negative, pessimistic. That might be so, yet when it comes with a desire to make things better, then it can be seen as something positive.

The key, as is usually the case in such matters, is finding the balance. For sure, it's pointless to strive for what amount to unattainable goals -- once we know that is the case that is -- or get worked up about things that we can't fix or undo.

It's generally better to focus on the positives of our current situation whilst, should we so wish, look for improvement where we feel it's needed. Otherwise we'll never even be close to feeling content, no matter what the situation.

That being said, there is a danger of underachievement if we always think 'things could be worse', especially so when in reality making our lot better doesn't require an awful amount of effort nor drastic change.

It's really a quest for contentment and fulfilment; feeling satisfied doing what we at least think we should be doing.

This is what keeps us going. And for many it's never ending. Once one goal is 'netted' the search for another begins.
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