As I look back over the past week and look for themes, it seems that many of those people I talked to were just unhappy. In fact one book I am reading at the moment suggests that depression is ten times more prevalent than it was in 1960, and that it now strikes at a much younger age. The obvious question is why? That particular book goes on to suggest that one of the major problems is that people today have an “over reliance on short cuts to happiness”.
There is no doubt that we live in an instant world, with technology making everything faster, with information immediately available on the internet everywhere we go, and being able to speak to people on the other side of the world in seconds. I can now choose to carry an ipad rather than my heavy diary and even give up my books for a Kindle reader! The sad thing is that we start to believe that we can make instant relationships as well (through speed dating and online chat rooms) and quickly find a partner who can make us happy.
WRONG! There are no easy short cuts to happiness! Nobody can “do it” for you, however, in my experience there are some things you can do, but it will take time and effort. Mark Twain put it like this:
“The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.”
In other words it is a by-product of taking the focus off yourself and seeking to help, support and encourage others. Like other forms of investment the reward is not immediate. In fact one of the other quotes I stumbled on was from Martin Luther King Jr. who said:
“Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.”
So, if you are feeling unhappy today, pause and think about how you could help somebody else. Adopt a positive attitude, lighten up and don’t take yourself so seriously! Prove it by offering a word of encouragement to your boss, or purchasing a small gift for your partner or even offer a smile to your co-worker. It is the little things that can make a big difference, though it still may take some time.
Chaplain Ian S Whitley