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So, one day, I decided to be happy. (4)



It’s already the 4th chapter of my “how i decided to be happy” story. I said in the beginning that it was not a matter as simple as my title could suggest. Well, I suppose everybody is aware that, except for some very rare naturally gifted people, happiness is nothing like a simple matter…

The difficulty of happiness is obvious for sad people, who struggle in vain to achieve this quasi myhical goal. I think it’s clear also for happy people, who, even if they sometimes make it look easy from the outside, actually work on a daily basis to preserve this so-called state of happiness.

Yet, I did not realize that this story would be so long to tell. In fact, in my mind, it really feels like a decision, clear and ponctual, that i have taken one day. So the whole story could really be summarized in it’s title.

The fact that happiness can be the fruit of a decision is important of course, it is the main fact I’m trying to share here, from my own experience. But without the context, the decision is meaningless…

I can not tell people: you should just decide to be happy, now. I have to explain what means “deciding to be happy”, where it comes from, where it goes, how and why it works – at least for me. Then maybe it can be useful to someone, and not only me bragging about my happiness like I would be showing of with a new car. It’s not: look at my shiny sportscar, you wish you had the same! It’s more: if you are interested, i will explain to you how I got this nice car, it’s not that easy, but not that difficult either.

Back to the context. End of last chapter, I was rich of marble cold philosophical truth, and poor as Job on how to live with this truth. My life was not hell, far from it. When your life is a constant struggle for food and shelter, there is not much space for philosophy. Philosophy itself is a luxury, quest for happiness also. Happiness as a goal is in fact a modern western civilisation concept. Living in India, I witness the rise of this happiness concept in the middle and upper middle class. But for the large majority, about a billion people (!), the goal is not about more happiness, but about less suffering, or even precisely about how to deal with the suffering that life is made of. Anyway, if you look close enough, every religion is traditionaly about how to cope with pain…

As a 25 years old white upper middle class parisian male, I had as they say “everything to be happy”. As flat and car were graciously provided by my father, and most of my clothes by my mother, a small income from my art was enough to live a confortable life in the center of Paris. Now that destiny’s wise and humbling tricks has confronted me with the harsh reality of the vast majority of Indian population’s daily struggles, I feel kind of ashamed to even express this abstract existencial suffering of my youth.

But comparing the pain, mainly when you don’t directly witness it, is generally useless. Whatever the reason, when you suffer it’s real, and others are not inside you to mesure it. Depression, whether a violent episode or a more subtil but lasting state of being, has to be aknowledge. When people deny it, it feels like a deep, mean, heartless insult.

So, despite my enviable life, I was carrying around this dark mood, vague despair, sticky nihilism, like a dirty coat or a bad haircut. Nothing ugly enough to keep me from having some social life or love affairs, but surely bad enough to prevent me from building real lasting relationship. Sadness is a contagious disease, not always obvious at first sight, but a pernicious one which utltimately push people away, in a natural reflex of self preservation. Sad people meet sad people, problems attract problems, the vicious circle slowly, but surely, digs your own social grave. Loneliness was a constant feeling, even in the middle of a crowd, mainly in the middle of the crowd. Using a too common, but so accurate expression: I was witnessing my life instead of living it.

And this has been lasting, and lasting… Too long.

Finally, I got fed up with being sad…


From → Happiness, Philosophy

  1. I like your points, very true indeed. Having difficult, sad and depressive times, have you then experienced an extreme ‘turn off’ way that makes the experience of loneliness standing out even stronger and makes the loneliest place in the world among people, when these very people think you need to be ‘fixed’. That something is wrong with you?

    I believe what really is needed when we face difficult times, is not judging the sadness and depression, but instead give infinite space and time. What is basically happening then is being loved and trusted exactly as one is, even when it doesn’t look ‘trustworthy’… if one can do this for oneself, as it seems you have been able to, tadaaa… a new foundation of feeling alive and kicking arrives, slowly but thoroughly… yes?

  2. Dear Hanne, thank you for appreciating my little, very personal, story. I am not sure how to answer to your comment, as I am still struggling to gather my thoughts and complete this story. Yet, of course, facing the sadness is a first necessary step if anyone wish to get out of it. Denying the depressive state might seem to work for a time, but usually only succeed to make it worse. My own way to set up this new foundation you’re mentionning, should finally be the subject of my next post… When I’ll find the time to write it. All the best, Benjamin.

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