From Happiness to Satisfaction

I became very depressed after an unexpected break-up. School was impossible to continue for the quarter, and the level of sadness that consumed my heart, mind, and soul appalled my friends and family.

 Yes, Kanye. This was a truly cold winter. I told my friend goodbye, and asked myself if I will ever love again.

 “You need to be happy, Marwa. You’re not a happy person anymore. You used to be so happy and carefree! What happened? All of this for a guy? 

Happiness. It’s what human beings spend their entire lives chasing. Nothing should ever have the power to take that kind of positive energy away from us. This has become the norm. And quite frankly, it is a very dangerous one.

Once a very difficult trial crosses our path, we try our hardest to escape the pain and hurt. Suddenly we are overwhelmed. An extreme feeling of desperation to rid ourselves of the anxiety, lethargy, and stress is all we can possibly think of doing. We feel fear most: fear of spending the rest of our lives, or even just a few months in this state of deep despair. What can we do to shake off these feelings of hopelessness?

When I was diagnosed with depression, I spent weeks outside of the house, never alone from morning until night. I made sure that not a single second was spent by myself or free of activity to ensure that I would not have any spare time to dwell on my pain. Falling asleep at night and waking up in the morning thinking about my loss was already enough time to feel and digest what I was going through. I had to make sure that my time was booked with friends, family, and work or else I would drive myself absolutely insane with pain.

Not until many months later did I realize that I was actually doing the complete opposite: I was driving myself insane trying to escape my pain. I never realized that this was only giving me temporary relief. In the long run, I was not improving.

Society has taught us that we have to live life dodging any obstacles that may prevent us from being happy. We have to avoid any conflict and make sure that we do not encounter anything that may cause us pain. What we are not realizing is that this is not the function of life. Aren’t all of the movies and television shows that we watch about heroes that go through difficult circumstances and come out of them stronger than ever? We learn that this is the epitome of reaching our highest potential: struggling and coming out as better people. But how come we live life completely devoid of this concept?

The recent earth-shattering news of Robin Williams’ suicide brings to light, or should I say darkness, the urgent attention of mental health. People Magazine’s tribute to Williams emphasizes the comedian’s exceptional talent of hiding his sorrows behind the entertainment that he gave millions to people. A source that worked with Robin Williams on The Crazy Ones said, “If he was depressed, it didn’t show in his work.” Director Garry Marshall of Mork and Mindy said, “Play was his passion and what drove him everyday […] He could make everybody happy but himself.” The Hollywood Reporteralso came out with a special edition on Williams. “‘I’ve often felt that Robin’s blinding speed and flash of wit was an effort at concealment rater than revealing,’” his friend Eric Idle to The New York Timesin 2009.

Human beings fear depression and pain. We fear getting hurt, destroyed, and torn apart. We do whatever it takes to run away from our problems, instead of facing them. When I skipped school for the term to travel, to try to escape my pain, I realized halfway through my trip that I was not improving mentally. I was not feeling any better. And that was because I never took the time to sit down and reflect on what I was feeling. I did not face my hurt and really understand why it was happening and how it was changing me - how it was making me stronger.

So, if we are supposed to live life embracing our pain, what does this mean about how we can attain happiness?

Firstly, it should never come from an external entity. Our happiness should never be based on another person, thing, place, or ideology. Secondly, happiness should only come from within us. Happiness is a natural concept, an organic part of life. It is not artificial. It does not and should not come from something that can disappear or be taken away from us.

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