We all want happiness. Yet many of us live with depression. Our Constitution guarantees us the right to pursue happiness. And happy is a wonderful feeling. When we expect to live in a permanent state of happiness, though, we are living in fantasy land. Seeking happiness as the end all is a disservice to ourselves and others. Can we really be happy when a loved one dies, we crash our car, fail an important test, or lose a big game? Of course not.
While we pursue happiness, we are called to be vital. I recently read someplace that vitality rather than happiness is the opposite of depression. I like that. In fact, I agree. Vitality is that energy and creativity with which we can meet all that comes our way. Death? We feel our grief, mourn our loss, cherish memories and connect with others who mourn. Vitality gives us the guts and grace to move through our pain. And heal.
Car crash? We seek all the physical and spiritual healing we can find. We face our responsibilities to ourselves and others. We ask for help. Seek forgiveness. Vitality gives us the power to acknowledge our shame and fear and feel our pain. And heal.
Failed Test? We reflect on what happened and analyze how we might do better. We look and feel inwardly to see if we are on the right path. Vitality gives us the strength to look at ourselves honestly and assess what we see and try again. And heal.
Losing a big game of any kind? Vitality gives us the energy to acknowledge our limits and errors (Yes, we are all human and prone to limits and errors!) and treat ourselves with love and kindness when what we feel is shame and embarrassment. And heal.
Is this path of vitality easy? Can we flip a switch in our minds and keep showing up for whatever comes our way? For that is the essence of vitality–the willingness to move toward challenges and problems rather than to run from them.
I’d like to say I have this vitality thing mastered. I don’t. Yet more and more I notice the will to show up and be present with whatever is arriving in my life. How about you? Boot out depression. Engage vitality.