Stop Telling Others to “Choose Happiness”

We’ve all been there before: standing in the stationery store surrounded by pretty colours, oohing and ahhing at the swirly patterns and rose gold embellishments, when suddenly an overly cheerful affirmation printed in giant cursive screams the message “Be Happy!”. You see it and wince, finding yourself feeling vaguely affronted for reasons you can’t quite pin down.
I know I’m not alone in cringing; the exasperation people are beginning to feel with such orders is not unique to my own cynicism, as the popularity of Sarah Knight’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k” demonstrates. Yet there are many hardcore believers who continue to offer well-intentioned advice to the tune of “just choose happiness!”
These affirmations spring from the positive psychology movement which has been a trend of the past decade. Its influence is felt everywhere from the workplace to our home décor. I’m here to tell you that it has to stop.

For those of you gritting your teeth and telling yourself “just be happy” and finding it ineffective, this is for you. Breathe in, breathe out, and read on. As for all those well-intentioned people who offer up these tidbits of advice, I’d like to offer you an alternative which will probably serve the very people you’re trying to help far more effectively.

 

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How it feels to work with depression and anxiety

As I’m writing this, it is 7:21am on a Monday morning. As with every Monday morning, I dragged myself forcefully out of bed about eighty-one minutes ago. I had, as always, intended on being up far earlier than that, but last night was the usual cycle of panicking about the coming week and consequently not being able to sleep, leading to me panicking about not being able to sleep and therefore continuing the painfully awake loop. Thus it was under duress that I forced my weary feet onto the floor after tossing aside the sheets soaked in my sweat from the nightmares that came when I did finally fall asleep for a meagre few hours. As I rub my eyes and try to focus on the bleary screen in front of me, the same thought permeates my mind:

“I can’t do this.”

Continue reading “How it feels to work with depression and anxiety”