I have seen many people post lately about their struggles with anxiety and depression, which is unfortunately a very common phenomenon, and seems to be on the rise. I wish it were only me with those challenges, and the rest of the world to be in a state of perennial well-being, yet so long as the topic is relatable, I want to share my views on it. My goal is not to offer remedies or advice, but only a sense of what I’ve come to know in regards to those things and ways to deal with them.
Anxiety is a fear, nervousness, or dread for what the future might hold. It is negative anticipation. It is not only in the mind, since it has physiological symptoms. It can lead to health problems.
Depression is a sadness that zaps motivation from the individual. It is not enough to suggest a change of thinking or routine to the depressed person, since the melancholy lingers over the thoughts and actions of the individual. Depression can be said to originate in the past, in a sense, a lingering of unhappy memories and emotions. It can also be caused by a medical chemical imbalance of serotonin.
When both depression and anxiety are present, a person feels dread at an anticipated fear, but feels very unmotivated to take action about it. Depression and anxiety are parasites that can make even the wealthiest person feel that he or she is in a living hell.
On the other side of the coin are peace and happiness.
Peace is an awareness of consciousness beyond thoughts and feelings, people and things. It is a paradoxical detachment that ends up with one feeling more connected everything. Peace does not ignore the problems of the world or the individual, but simply sees them from a centered state. Peace is to find comfort in one’s own skin, and to navigate life from a standpoint of equipoise. Peace is not just to be calm, but to perceive the pain of life as a faint echo in the totality of the oneness of the world. A person may be at peace yet not smile, but the sense of peace in palatable to those around the peaceful person. Peace can be induced, but sometimes it can come as a pleasant surprise. In the concept of “satori,” or brief moments of enlightenment, one feels peace for absolutely no reason. It is hard to describe, but it is a feeling that makes life and everything in it worth it, and can never be bought or sold, but is a random flash of contentment.
Happiness is a joy that is a byproduct of gratitude, gratitude to what one has and is, and gratitude to what others have and are. It is not unusual to find a humble, poor person who is very happy, and then to find a CEO enflamed with dissatisfaction and greed. The opposite can be true as well. Happiness is a birthright to everyone, and is inherent in one’s nature. It is the ultimate goal and pursuit. People search for it in relationships, money, power, nature, art, hobbies, intoxicants, knowledge, and other endless things that sooner or later end up falling short of bringing lasting or true happiness. I have come to believe the statement that I hated in my youth, since it didn’t make sense back then, but there is no other way to put it: happiness is inside you.
In regards to dealing with anxiety and depression, one thing I have found to be effective, and which I have read in The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, is to face the feelings of anxiety and depression. The feelings they evoke linger in the body, and to give them attention is to make them subside. By attention, I do not mean thinking about them, but rather to feel it. The common mistake we all make is to think about the sadness and looking for people and situations to blame. This usually makes things worse, as the mind can bring forth resentment towards oneself and/or others for what one thinks is the cause of one’s suffering. On the other hand, when you allow yourself to feel the emotions in your body, without adding thoughts to them, you burn them out little by little. You allow them to be expressed through attention, and sooner or later you find that you don’t feel as bad as you used to. A sense of relief slowly starts to creep in, and you find yourself more aware of your surroundings as your inner suffering is no longer distracting you as much. You find yourself with more energy, motivation, and drive to move forward.
In regards to peace and happiness, I realize that nothing and no one in the world can give that to you until you find it in yourself first. No one can really tell you what those things are, since you know them by first hand experience, and that is the only to recognize it. This means that they are states felt deep within one’s being, and hence, can be found inside. By reading Inner and Outer Peace Through Mediation by Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj, I have come to believe that mediation is the only way to find the type of peace and happiness that can’t be found by perennially chasing the things and experiences of the world.
My account of anxiety, depression, peace, and happiness is continually evolving, as I’m sure so is that of you, the reader. I will not end this note with a call to action, but rather with an acknowledgement of what we as humanity share together, the journey towards our place in the world.