...happiness is a difficult thing--it is, as Aristotle posited in The Nicomachean Ethics, an activity, it is about good social behavior, about being a solid citizen. Happiness is about community, intimacy, relationships, rootedness, closeness, family, stability, a sense of place, a feeling of love...--in this America, happiness is hard.
i just finished reading Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel. if you've not heard of it, it's a memoir of one young woman's battle with depression. throughout the book, i felt my self vacillating between empathy and annoyance at her state of being. she struggled with knowing she needed help and running at the first signs of it. i identified with her, recognizing the same self-destructive behaviors that plague(d) some of my friends in my early 20s. the relationship woes. the substance abuse. the listlessness. clearly, she made it through the trial by fire; otherwise, her book would've never been written. it wasn't until her eventual release by pharmacy that i got something out of this book. we are a nation of drug addicts. remember from your health classes in middle and high school that a drug is anything that changes the way your body operates. caffeine is a drug. food is a drug. heroin is a drug. alcohol is a drug. medications, prescribed or otherwise, are drugs.
her clarity of mind after making it through her "black wave" belittled the drug culture that infects our health care today. her line of thinking is much like mine, in that i often refuse to go to the doctor with minor ailments, knowing that they'll often prescribe something to make the symptoms go away when my immune system will often take care of it in about the same time frame. i don't take aspirin unless i can't see straight; i'll only take ibuprofen to reduce swelling from injuries. prozac is so readily prescribed by doctors these days that it has become a bad joke, one that wounds people with true problems.
happiness is a choice. someone very dear to me says that often. you can choose to be happy, you can choose to be sad. when you make sadness your choice too often, depression is the result, and your brain won't let you make choices anymore. i had all of the components of aristotle's definition living in gainesville.
i chose happiness, and in spite of leaving all of those behind, i am managing to reconstruct them in my new environment. i'm delighted to be a part of such a new, vibrant experience that i can't help but smile more often than not.