What is happiness? Can you define happiness? Are you happy? Is there a time you have been very happy?
The dictionary defines happy as:
: feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.
: showing or causing feelings of pleasure and enjoyment.
:pleased or glad about a particular situation, event, etc.
Take a look at your life. Not the pains or sadness of the past, but the good times and wonderful memories. The day of your High School or College graduation. True love. Your wedding day. The birth of your child/children. The anticipation of Christmas on Christmas Eve as a child, or as an adult. Holidays with family and/or friends. Watching your kids laugh, learn and play. The embrace, laughter and smiles of your spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend. The job promotion, new job, or the obtaining the career you always wanted. The bonus, or victory of a large sale, or big raise. The victories of your favorite sports team. The wedding of your child or children. Finding out your test for cancer was negative.
Each of us have a lot to be happy about. I am confident each of us can count our blessings and begin naming them. List them down. Post them on your refrigerator. Recall them and be thankful for them. We all have things to be thankful for. No matter how bad things may seem, there is hope.
There are also times of sadness. They will inevitably come. Sometimes these valleys can last for days.
Jesus speaks of there will surely be times of trouble in the New Testament. He also said do not fear and try not to be anxious for He has overcome the world and He provides a comforter in the Holy Spirit. The bible also says there is a time to cry and a time to morn. Jesus even wept. It’s the shortest verse in the bible for one of the most profound and exemplary reasons.
To have times of sadness and cry is not abnormal and it is not weakness. It means you are human with human emotions.
Sometimes the heart needs to heal and your mind needs to cope with the pain or loss and it is it’s way to recover.
However sometimes sadness can last longer than usual. Some people suffer or have suffered from depression. Or prone to depression. Sadness that lasts for more than a week or two. Depression is a real illness. A treatable mental illness. It affects nearly 20% of the population. According to the Centers for Disease Control every American adult with suffer at least two bouts with depression in their life time. It can be triggered by traumatic life events, a death of a loved one(s), a chemical imbalance in the brain, or it can be hereditary. It is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed. Most often people suffering from depression become withdrawn, lethargic, uninterested in things and activities they once enjoyed. They often become filled with feelings of worthlessness or immense shame. Often it is no fault of their own. It is an illness that many people have endured.
Statistics by the Centers for Disease Control states that 50% of all Americans will suffer from a mental health crisis and that on average every American adult will suffer from at least two bouts of depression in their life time. (Source: CDC, NAMI).
Anxiety is actually the most common mental illness affecting 40 million American adults 18 years or older. 18% of the American population. Major Depressive Disorder affects 14.8 million American adults, or 6.7% of the American population. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD affects 7.7 million American adults or 3.5% of the American population. (Source: Anxiety and Depression Association of America. ADAA.) 5.7 million or 2.6% Americans suffer from BiPolar Disorder. (Source: Depression and BiPolar Support Alliance. [DBSA].) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder affects about 5 million American adults or about 2 to 3 percent. (Source: Psych Central). About 1 in 20 individuals live with Borderline Personality Disorder. (Source: NAMI.) These statistics are from those that seeks help, and obtain a diagnosis. Imagine what the numbers might be with those who don’t seek help. Mental illness is now being called the “silent epidemic.”
The good news is that these mental illnesses can be treated and recovery for many mental illnesses is not only possible, it occurs.
Unfortunately there is still a stigma associated with depression and other mental illnesses and often people don’t seek help. Often because of fear of being out-casted to even shunned due to the stigmatization associated with mental illness. This stigma needs to stop. Stigma is caused because of the lack of education, knowledge, wisdom and empathy about mental illness.
If you are someone who is suffering from depression, anxiety, or activities or lack thereof, interfering with normal activities or know someone who is; ask for help, or if someone you know is suffering or showing long periods of sadness extending more than a week, help them get help. Don’t wait. Talk to them and by all means listen to them. Often an empathetic and caring ear can go a very long way. There are many resources of help. And in America, it is now affordable to seek help for mental illness. And there is no dollar amount that is too much to help someone with depression and even possibly save a life. No matter how hopeless you or someone you know may feel or think their situation is, there is hope, and there is treatment.
The other GOOD NEWS is that Jesus Christ also offers that hope. He took upon all our sins, and our mistakes. He told us to cast our burdens upon Him. Seek Him, and know and understand His hope written in his word and seen in the beauty of creation and the life that you have or could have. If you are saved and know that hope, tell others. Don’t delay. God is stronger than a stigma, or a person’s mental health challenges.
Once the clouds clear with research, education, treatment and/or therapy you or this person will realize there are so many reasons to be happy. That there is recovery and you or this person doesn’t have to live in the darkness.
How about you? What are you happy about? Can you take a few moments and count your blessings?