Power, Autonomy, and Happiness

So, having chronic major depression, and having gone through a lot of therapy, I have put a lot of thought and study into what makes us happy.

If you ask people what makes them happy, most of the time, they will give you a list of activities, experiences, situations, things, or people.  If they have thought about it or struggled with it more, they might tell you that their choices make them happy.

While I have learned to agree more with the second answer than the first, I find it vastly over-simplified.  It fails to note that it’s our choices and perceptions when it comes to power that are the key.  Lemme explain.

Everyone has a need for purpose.  Everyone has a need to feel like they have some sort of impact on the world.  And everyone CAN, but if we expect everyone to have the same capacity, and either dumb down or over demand, it isn’t going to work well.

EVERYONE has weaknesses, and as such, have limited power. Sometimes people have so many or such powerful weaknesses that it’s really easy (for them and for others) to only see the lack of power, which makes them feel sad, and others feel like those people need more and more done for them.

But working in mental health, I’ve found that it’s VITAL for people to find and grow the power they have in the world. In their own lives, and in the world in general. It is through that that they gain happiness and strength. Even someone who is severely physically and mentally handicapped will find great joy in the things they CAN do. Others might look at the limitations and think, “that person can’t do anything” and even think that life would suck. But it’s different according to each person’s capacity.

Consequences come from the power of choices. If consequences are taken away or buffered, our understanding of our power is diminished, our capacity is diminished, our courage is diminished, and our happiness is diminished. I feel VERY strongly that this is EXACTLY why there is so much suffering on earth. God knows EXACTLY what He is doing. He saves us from many things and gives us many joys, but he WON’T save us from more (though he COULD) because the purpose of being here is to learn and to grow and to become stronger and braver and better. That requires understanding our power. That requires understanding HIS power. That requires learning how to deal with failure. That requires putting thought into things. That requires suffering.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.