Happiness and the American dream. Happiness and depression, clinically presented.
Are we born happy? That question might be asked of anyone except the baby. Before you rush off to your hospital's nearest maternity wing to gaze blissfully at the babies lined up on display, you might try and self hynose yourself and find our if YOU were born happy. Let's talk about happiness as if it were objectively only someone else's problem.
Are you happy? What a simple question and how devastating it is. I never realized just how painful that question was until I asked some one's husband when his wife brought him in for consultation. That as the poet said made all the difference to me. Of course, the poet actually said, "Beauty is all you know on earth and all ye need to know." But, we counselors take liberty with quotations as we do with emotions. Happiness is an emotion, actually.
I began the time with him by letting him know that I believed that he had the right to a better more fuller life and that I was willing to help grow and learn to share with himself his attainment of happiness. I asked him, are you happy?
I believed at the time that the woman's husband had a right to be happy. All of us, I believed, have that right to be happy. After all, happiness is practically demanded by our Bill of Rights. But, something seemed wrong here though.
What is preventing you from being happy was my next question when he said that he didn't feel happy? We began to think of all the things that he could do to get happy. But, we stalled on "What is keeping you from being happy?"
We talked about things like, What do you need to be happy? How Can I help you?
Of course, many of you self licensed clinical counselors are thinking that the husband was just depressed. After all, we assume, depressed people don't have the right to be happy since they are supposed to be sad.
It turned out that the husband was too consumed with self destructive pride to even permit help from his wife. He would rather be labelled as the devious, backstabbing husband, as the lazy boob seeker, as the unnatural father, but he would never permit help from his wife.
What keeps us from being happy? That is the second question. If you can answer that then maybe you can ask what do I need to be happy. E.B. White, a famous American pundits commented that most Americans concept of happiness was related to the happiness of a cow. As I have formulate, many human emotions can be objectified into animal behaviors. A cow is happy when allowed to sit on a hill and regurgitate its cud.
E.B. White correctly saw a direct comparison between the behavior of the happy cow on the hill to Americans who claim that happiness for them is a full course meal. I am offering a suggestion that Americans are not like cows chewing their cud and regurgitating it into another stomach. That might have been his existence as a cow merchant. I am assuming, of course, that E.B. White was a cow merchant. If Americans were cow’s, they would not have been able to have built America since America was born from literal butchers of cows. As Carl Sandburg said in a famous poem, Chicago, you great hog butcher of the world. I merely substituted cow for hog and say, America, you great cow butcher of the world. The message is obvious.
America is a gigantic land of unsettled needs, groping for a new way, a new vision, a new cause. Americans eat cows, Mr. White, they aren’t cannibals. Your husband is not happy, wife. He might suddenly be cured of depression with a divorce or just another wife, maybe you, who understands that her husband is not a cow looking to be happy but a person seeking his own fulfillment.
This situation, of course, was not a real life counseling event. Situations and people were made up to discuss a very troublesome minutely important connection between happiness and depression.