The Happiness Project

New year, new theme.

The other night, as I rolled around in bed lamenting the hopelessness of life, David came to my rescue. He pointed out some rather basic items I have to be grateful for: a functioning body, family who loves me, the opportunity to work in China should I choose to do so after receiving my master’s degree. All excellent points. All basic points, which took me aback and made me wonder why I had overlooked them, even for a moment. David helpfully pointed out that I may be entering another depression, coinciding once again with persistent back pain.

I struggled with depression in the past year. Though calling it depression seems to me an overstatement, I prefer to call it an emotional recession. The exact cause still eludes me. If I had known it, if it could’ve been traced to one specific event or trigger, then I would’ve made the necessary adjustments and changes to turn things around. As it stood, I could only guess at the cause. David and I agreed that it probably had a lot to do with the back pain I was experiencing.

The fall into emotional recession is an easy one. I loosened my grip on life for one moment and watched years of work tumble down around me. The climb back to emotional surplus, on the other hand, is slow and tedious. After months of attempting to “wait it out”, I realized that happiness doesn’t fall from the sky into my lap, I have to work towards it tirelessly, pursue it relentlessly.

Thus, the Happiness Project.

It’s a simple idea. At the beginning of every month, I make a short and concrete list of daily/weekly tasks. I slowly rebuild the positive habits I had that kept me focused: daily stretches to help with my back pain, setting aside time every week to pursue my interests, blogging.

It’s also a lifetime commitment. Perhaps one day happiness will be second nature to me. That seems unlikely. Just as with everything else, our emotional state requires maintenance and upkeep and our relationship with happiness demands more than our complacency.

I’ll be blogging more this year. It’s on my list.