Being the New Year and all, I decided to tidy up my home office. A task that was long over due I have to say. As I was doing so, I came across part of an interview of Germaine Greer by Enough Rope’s Andrew Denton in September 2003 that I had copied and pasted to a document.
Many things can be said about Greer. However rather than focusing on misogyny, patriarchal societies or controversies, it is what she said about happiness that I found compelling, and is what I’d copied and pasted.
Here’s what she said in response to Denton’s question about wisdom she had gained from life:
”I think one thing I did learn is that…happiness is a positive achievement, that it won’t be given to you, it can’t be granted you by anybody else. You have to actually work at being a happy person.
And that was hard for me to learn because I was a sort of haunted, doomed hippie youth and to just decide that all my grandstanding and self-dramatisation that you do when you’re young was a waste of energy, and that to be depressed is completely pointless.
Because I am subject to depressions and I have my own way of dealing with them — I fast and stay out of bed, really, until I feel as though I’m in control again, but it’s a risky procedure. Not everybody can do that.
But it seems to me that happiness is actually a kind of self-discipline and it’s just more useful to be…to work at being…not contented, because your discontent is what drives you, but… Well, principally, I think happiness comes from being un-self-conscious — just forgetting about yourself. It’s the most important thing you can do.
You just become a pair of eyes. And if you’re really looking, then there’s endless astonishment and delight to be had. This is the most wonderful, wonderful world. I love it. And I think it’s so funny that I should decide that I really, really love it when I’m getting to the point where I’m probably going to have to leave it, you know? I’ve probably got my terminal disease already… and I’ve just figured out how to live on this planet!”
In my work with clients who experience depression, I often hear similar things to Germaine’s statement that it is ”pointless”. Other descriptors I’ve heard include being unproductive or a waste of time. To me, this reflects the sheer frustration of dealing with an illness that has the ability to render you disabled. Like other illnesses, it rears its head at the most inconvenient of times.
Depression can range from from mild to severe. Regardless of where someone sits on that spectrum, having a plan to deal with it helps tremendously. Obviously, Germaine has worked out a plan that helps her through times when she’s struck down. However, she’s included something that I consistently tell all my clients when it comes to happiness. Happiness needs to be worked at.
It’s important to note that happiness is not a constant state of being. Happiness is experienced in the moment. Our emotions are in a state of flux that change according to our circumstances and environment. They’re always there telling us about what’s going on. When dealing with a mood disorder, the trick is knowing what makes you happy so that when you’re going through bouts of illness or hard times, it works as an antidote, or more accurately, medicine to help relieve the symptoms.
Maybe you’d like help in activating a plan for happiness. Contact me to make an appointment to talk through how I can help you experience more happiness in your life.