Happiness is a thing to be practiced, like the violin. — John Lubbock
This quote has become one of my main life mottoes. As regular readers and those who know me already know, I suffer from chronic depression. However, in general, I think I have a much better attitude than I did 10, 15, 20 years ago. Why? Because I have practiced. I’m not naturally talented at being happy, but I have practiced it. Now many aspects of it are like second nature. Aside from medication, part of the practice has been ‘cognitive’ — that is, I just find better thinking patterns and practice them until they are more natural — and part of it has been from sort of ‘psychotherapy’ — that is, I find the causes of my unhappy thoughts and change or root them out. This has been brought to mind while I am here in Utah helping my tragedy-ridden friend again. I couldn’t do what she does. I just couldn’t handle it, I am sure. But SOME of our struggles have been remarkably similar, and it’s been interesting to me to see how differently we deal with the struggles. She plows through them, working and working and working to make them better or manageable. I stink at that; I tend to phyisically collapse or withdraw from extreme stressors. But she is at the same time very angry and bitter about the circumstances, and I find that this is something that I have learned to be better about. I have learned and gained enough faith that the trials are for my good and I must find good in them, because Heavenly Father loves me and as long as I do my best, He will protect me from things that are actually eternally bad for me. That means that even though a situation sucks, I have to remember that it’s not only going to be okay, but it is somehow the best thing for me. Even if I die; even if I suffer. This causes me to have to rethink many, many situations to match this background eternal truth. But rethinking these things has never led me wrong, as long as I keep the love and grace of the Saviour as my unyielding rock of Truth. My friend struggles with this. She has other ideas that take precedence over this truth, so she is very unhappy as she plows nobly through her trials. My heart bleeds for her. I could not do the great things she does. But I want her to be happy.