This week saw International Happiness Day, cue the rush of people writing a tie in blog post. Normally I ignore these but I was drawn to the one written by Sukh Pabial. In it he muses on the nature of happiness, on the complexity and diversity of definitions. It really is an excellent post and I recommend it with just one caveat. In his final paragraph Sukh says “It is so very attainable and achievable.” Now this is slightly at odds with the rest of the post. It also jarred with me slightly.
Of course it would jar with me, after all I have bipolar disorder. I’ve suffered bouts of debilitating depression, manic highs of elation and quite a lot of the sickening lurching between those two states. Sometimes the mania actually feels pretty good, I feel kind of happy but it’s not a happy that I can trust, one based on reality. When I’m depressed, I can find that quite comforting, released from the cycle for a while.
If I’m completely honest with myself I think I would settle for being content – which sounds a bit insipid, a bit half hearted in this age of mission statements and being “passionate” about the most mundane of tasks. Even allowing for the fact that I have a “severe and enduring” (its that hyperbolic language again) mental health condition I think that quite a few of us could gain a lot from looking for contentment rather than happiness. For me, having happiness as the goal is a bit daunting. I know we are encouraged to dream big and shoot for the stars but for some of us, smaller, more manageable targets are likely to be more motivating.
When I sat down to write this post I had lots of ideas buzzing around my head, examples I wanted to bring in and share. I wanted to pose counter arguments and philosophies, write a long compelling post. However, by writing these 300 odd words I’ve got it out of my system and I’m content with that.
I’m grateful to Sukh for prompting this line of thinking with his thoughtful considered post.