The Youniverse

The Goal of Life

The goal of life is life itself. I feel that so many of us are trying to strive for some sort of ultimate goal that we believe will make us happy or accomplished or whatever. But what is that goal? For some it’s the dream job, for others, the soulmate or something else. The funny thing is though, once we achieve these goals we quickly realize that life goes on. The perfect example of this can be seen in the world of professional sports. Athletes train their entire life aiming to win a championship at the highest level in their respectives sports. However, once they win it, they quickly realize that they have to go for another one, and another one and another. That’s why we have five time champions and multiple record holders. It’s also why we have multi-billionaires. For the lucky ones amongst us, we realize this lesson in the early stages of life. For the many unlucky ones, it dawns usually at the time of retirement, where desperation sets in while trying to fill a hole in life. For these old-timers, their most common regret in life is that they did not enjoy it while they were living it, but were rather too focused on a goal.

Life is a never-ending process (yes, including after death. Trust me, we wouldn’t want an ultimate “heaven” that we have thought of) To be truly happy, we must enjoy life through its endless changes and perceive it as a process. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t have goals, but rather that we should realize that these goals are transitory. We already are where we need to be, which is right here. We will never get “there”, because there isn’t a “there”. There is no ultimate destination.


Reminiscing

While looking at some old pictures of myself (not that old, maybe 2-5 years ago) I came to a weird realization that I don’t normally get. Normally I just look at old pictures and reminisce about them a little. This time though, It was a pretty strange experience, almost like being at my own funeral.

I was looking at who I was at that time (I have changed a lot, especially these last few years) and saw myself as a pretty insecure person. Incredibly, I could actually perceive my insecurity in the way I looked in the pictures. I remembered how I acted during those days. I remembered my constant need for approval, my need to control others and life itself, my bouts of frustration and subsequent lashing out at other people, all from not being who I wanted to be. I remembered how I used to make a big deal out of very small issues and make it seem as if it was the “end of the world”. I could see that I was looking at a fragile person and  almost felt a sort of pity for myself, like the way an adult feels pity watching a child getting all worked up over a lollipop falling into the sandbox.

I thought to myself that if I had the chance to go back and meet that past me I would tell him to chill out and that it is alright for him to be himself. I would tell him to be confident, hold his head up high, live life fully and happily, to love and accept others and to not let anything get him down. I know that may sound cliche, but it’s true. Obviously because of his perspective he may not understand where I am coming from, so I would share with him the information that I share in this blog, haha.

I have been using the experience I gained from looking at those pictures in that way in my daily life. I imagine myself being that past version of me whenever I feel worried, angry, sad, or any other negative emotion. I imagine what the future me would tell me now if he had the opportunity just as I would tell my past self. Essentially I almost act like a confident, secure adult reassuring the insecure, fearful child that lives within me. I find that this really helps to keep things in perspective and to not get so caught up in the negative drama of the daily events in life. Life has been much more enjoyable these past few days as a result.


Why do we choose to work?

Ever since I have been looking at life with a neutral focus I have started to notice how weird our “normal” perspectives of life are.

I cannot believe how many of us have bought into other people’s definitions of how we should live life. We do things that we don’t want to do and live our lives in complete misery all because someone else told us that “that’s just the way life is.”

The funny thing is these other people don’t have any more of a clue of how life is than you or I. They just made up some story and sold it to others, and then the others continued to sell it to others and now we end up with a world believing in some other people’s story.

The fact is and always will be that life is devoid of meaning. It absolutely has none built into it whatsoever. We are the only ones that gives each of our lives meaning. I cannot emphasize that point enough!

So why do we listen to others and believe that their meaning or definition of life is more believable than our own? It boggles my mind to think of how many people do this everyday of their lives. 

Our whole society is built on other people’s definition of life. Most of our lives consist of going to work/school everyday, many times against our own true will. Why? Because we think work and school have a built-in ability to support us. They don’t. They are neutral places that we associate with the concept of support. The question is: how do we define “support”? It can be defined very vaguely to define all types of support or we can define it very narrowly onto one particular type, like financial support associated with work. Support can come in ways that we can’t even imagine but we have chosen to focus our definition very narrowly onto one type instead. Under this type of definition, we must go to work or school because only those places are associated with support to us. But remember, it is only because we defined them as actions that support us that we get that effect out of them. It’s like we defined a bicycle as the only form of transportation and then forced ourselves to ride it in a thunderstorm. It seems very ludicrous to me that we choose to do that, but we do, all the time.

Another question is: how do we define “work” in the first place? Right now, most of us define that work must be somewhere we go to perform duties for another person or group of people so that they can support us to live our lives. Some other people have defined work a little differently. For example, professional athletes play sports and live a life of extreme pleasure while getting paid vast amounts of money, all because they defined playing sports as “work”. The point is that we can define anything as work, including the actions that bring us joy in life. Defining the actions we enjoy in life as work can create the same effect as our traditional idea of what work should be. All actions are also fundamentally neutral. It is us who label them and define one as greater than the other. Why do we apply the meaning of work and support to actions we don’t prefer? Who said that the non-preferential action is the only one to be defined as work? 

We can continue going down the list of all the experiences in our life that we don’t enjoy and find out why we define those as something we must experience in that way. (Religious definitions anyone?)

One of the most influential beliefs I have seen that we have bought into is that “life can’t be fun and games all the time.” Why the hell not? Who said we can’t have fun living life? Life sure didn’t. It depends on what is defined as “fun” and “games”. For a lot of us we substitute those words with “enjoyment”. So our belief is really that “life can’t be enjoyment all the time.” Because of this definition of life we almost look for suffering and pain (Remember “No pain, no gain” or “All things worth having in life don’t come easy”?) We look at others who do enjoy life as “lazy slackers” or “spoiled rich folks”. All of this because we bought into others’ beliefs and definitions.

So once again, my main point is: we can take back the power to define life in ways we prefer so that we can enjoy it rather than live in misery. We can finally choose to realize that we have bought into others’ definitions and that we can stop judging the actions and experiences we prefer in life because of these other definitions.


Definitions, Actions, Interactions and Reactions

Definitions are turning out to be much more influential in life than I previously thought. In my previous postings on definitions I said that life if fundamentally devoid of meaning and that it is us who give meaning to it. I am starting to become aware of how automatically and unconsciously I have been applying meaning to all aspects of my life, sometimes to my detriment.

So, what do I mean by automatic and unconscious definitions? To illustrate, I’ll use a common part of everybody’s life, a chair. Now, most everybody knows what a chair is and that it is useful for us to sit in. However, if it were not for our definition of a chair we may not interact with it in that way at all. A person who has no definition of what a chair is might do some “weird” things with it, until they are taught to buy into the definition the rest of us have of the chair. Once again, like with anything in life, the definition of the chair is not built into it and the usefulness of it is not found in it alone. What I mean by that last part is if a person wants to sit, they do not have to use a chair, but could use something else as a substitute. 

Now, I have been taking a look at everything in my life with a new mentality of neutrality to see how often I apply definitions automatically. My focus in this exercise has been on the parts of my life that I am particularly not happy with. I have found that I have unconsciously applied definitions that I do not prefer to these otherwise neutral objects and situations. Once I find out what those definitions are, I then have been replacing them with a definition I do prefer. This then creates a new way for me to interact with those aspects of my life.

The most significant aspect of my life that I have done this with is money. I found that I was applying the definition of abundance only to money. My definition was very narrow, similar to how a person may define a chair as the only place they can sit in. If a person did that, they may find their life to be uncomfortable and restrictive in some ways. I have found the same effect in my life, only with money instead. So now I have chosen to see money as a neutral symbol that I can choose to apply the definition of abundance to when I have the opportunity to use it. However if I don’t have it, I will broaden my definition of abundance to anything that allows me to do what I need to do. Why would I do this? Because I now know that everything in life is neutral and that I have the power to give it whatever meaning I want and essentially create my experience of it.

Now, I also want to get into the actual creation of things and how their creation relates to definitions as well. Everything that is man made is fundamentally based on a concept in someone’s imagination. Everything is a neutral symbol that we use to represent a non-physical idea. Using the example of a chair again, if a person wants to experience the idea of comfort, they can create a soft padded chair to sit in. The design of the chair first exists in the person’s imagination and then is constructed based on the this design. Then, it is usually used based on the definition the creator had of it when they designed it. However, I cannot emphasize enough the power we have in choosing whether to define the creation in the same way as him/her or in our own way. How we define it will determine our emotional reaction to it, how we interact with it and crucially the effect it has on our life.  

A chair might not be the most significant part of life so it doesn’t really matter how we define it. However, there are many aspects that affect people very negatively, solely based on their definitions. The perfect example I see now is the uproar around the world over job losses. A job by itself has no meaning whatsoever. But we have bought into others’ definitions that say that having a job is the only way to support yourself in life. Then, a neutral situation of not having a “job” (even the definition of a job is not inherent in the action of going to “work”. It is still within our power to define that as well) is created to have a negative effect in people’s lives. There are many examples where people apply positive meaning to not having a job and create a positive effect to essentially the same situation. 

In conclusion, what am I getting at here? Choose your own definitions of your life. Don’t automatically buy into others’ definitions unless you actually prefer to and they make you happy. Take conscious action and create interaction in your life based on your preferred definitions and state of being. 


Define Me.

Continuing on the topic of the meaninglessness of circumstances and things. The question that popped up in my head was, Who am I?

I thought about it and I realized that similarly to all external circumstances and things, there is no inherent meaning to my existence. I simply am. Up to now, I have thought that I know who I am, but then I came to another realization: most of the beliefs and definitions I had about myself were actually others beliefs and definitions of me, not really my own. Furthermore, the definitions I did have of myself were based on meeting the expectations of others rather than being true to myself and my desires.

I now realize that I do not need to change myself to fit into others’ definition of who I should be. I have total say in the definition of who I am, the meaning of my life and my resulting experience of it. Once again, the definitions do not exist externally so when I bought into others’ definitions of me I was buying into their own subjective definition of me, not something that is inherent in me.  I also realized that I was judging who I was based on the beliefs others had of what constitutes a good life and who I should be in order to live one.

Now, what is the easiest way to find out how you define yourself? Pay attention to your emotions when you think of yourself or when you receive feedback about yourself from others. Negative emotions are from a negative definition or belief that you have bought into. It is no more true than a positive definition or belief if you prefer to choose one. No one can affect your definitions of yourself or your life in general. As I said in a previous post, a negative relationship with any aspect of your life will create a negative effect. So it is extremely important to notice when you are buying into others’ negative definitions of you or when you are applying negative meaning to yourself and your life.

I imagine there are probably a huge number of people who are constantly judging themselves based on the definitions of others, whether its their parents, spouse, employer or whoever. We also buy into others’ definitions about life. For example, a scientist will say that we are merely human beings who have evolved over millions of years. That can be their objective observation. However, their observation has no built in meaning at all. We can take that information and define it how we wish, based on who we say we are. Some who are more focused on the physicality of our nature will agree with the observation and have a positive emotion towards it. Others who are more spiritually inclined could have the opposite effect. 

So, in conclusion, what can we learn from this observation? First, we must learn to look at ourselves as fundamentally neutral. We absolutely have no meaning built into us. Second, we must take the power and responsibility to choose our definitions and beliefs seriously, both for ourselves and the lives we live, lest we run around trying to fulfill others’ definitions of us.


Joy and Pain

As you go about your life, notice the actions you take. All of your actions are based on a simple rule. They are all taken in order to get closer to joy or further from pain. 

Now, it might not make sense to some, because many people choose an action that brings them no joy, but instead brings them pain. The reason the painful action is taken is because all alternative actions are defined to be even more painful than the one that is chosen.  For example, a person goes to work even though she hates it. The only reason she took that action is because she believed the alternatives could lead to poverty or some other more painful result.

This is an important observation because as I said in my other post, joy and pain are subjective and do not exist in the external world. So it all comes down to your definition of what brings you joy or pain. Take back your power from the external circumstances, redefine your preferred action as the most joyful and take it. 

Once again, you must take back your power to define your life as you see fit in order to gain true freedom in it.


Fear

Fear of something will never truly stop you from doing anything. Being afraid of feeling the fear will. 

Fear reminds you that you have a negative relationship with an aspect of your life. It can be used in a positive way as a learning tool that teaches you what definition you have attached to that aspect that creates the effect of it being fearful for you. Remember, no circumstance or object is automatically fearful. It is the nature of our relationship with it, through our definition of it, that causes the fear.

Here are some circumstances or things that were defined as fearful by some only to be redefined as joyful by others:

- Snakes, tarantulas, scorpions and other “dangerous” animals: These were and sometimes still are feared by most people. Yet some have decided to keep them as pets and their popularity is now growing. All it took was one person to redefine them as something that was beautiful, interesting or just something that brought them joy rather than fear and slowly but surely more people realized they can do the same as well.

- Skydiving, rock climbing, or any other extreme sports: Some lunatics decided that they were going to jump from a plane or climb a mountain and created many exciting new sports in the process. Now, some of these guys and girls are idolized by followers and actually get paid through sponsorships to continue doing the crazy things they do.

My point is, anything can be defined as either fearful or exciting. For those who define things as exciting, their lives reflect their definition. For the rest of us, we will live a shadow of their lives just because we choose to define things as fearful. It is up to us to change this if we want. One thing is for certain, the circumstance or thing won’t change its relationship with us until we decide to change ourselves. 

The question I now ask is, what are you afraid of? and why?


I came across something I wrote a while back and thought I would share. It will probably be similar to other posts, but who cares. Here it goes:

Another under-lying reason we aren’t joyful in life is because we think that the object, person or situation we associate with joy has a built-in attribute within it that makes it joyful.

This is the reason we usually lust after what we don’t have because we assume that after we get the thing or experience that situation we will be joyful. This makes us feel shitty now because we don’t have those things and the things we do have don’t bring us joy any longer. 

However, if we think back, there was a time when we thought that the things we now have or the situation we are currently in would bring us joy. So what changed? The things and the situation may be largely the same, but we have changed. It is us that no longer derive joy from the situation or the things.

The main point is, everything in life has no fundamental meaning. It just exists as it is. This means that nothing in life has any joy built into it. On the other hand we can say that nothing has fear built into it either. It is the meaning we give it that generates the feeling of joy or fear within us. Joy or any other emotion has always and will always originate from within us and be projected onto a certain object or situation. 

Now, there are times when we are influenced by others to apply a meaning to a certain object or situation in an unconscious manner. The perfect example of this can be seen in all advertising. Day after day we see advertising that attempts to get us to apply a positive meaning to the product or service advertised. Once again, these products have no joy built into them, but we start believing they do based on the advertising claims.

So what am I getting at here? The point is not to chase a objects or situations thinking that they will bring joy. Instead, be joyful by knowing that joy is already within each of us and that we have the power to apply it to situations or objects in the current moment. Begin to appreciate life in this moment rather than constantly striving to be someone else or somewhere else. You and your life will always change so you will never get to a “perfect destination”. Accept this fact and enjoy the never ending ride starting with this very moment.


A Positive Life

Life is all about relationships. It is about the relationships between us and our bodies, between each other, and with the events in our lives and the general environment that surrounds us. We each go through life constantly altering our perspective of it by changing the nature of our relationships.

The most important fact is, it is up to each of us to define our relationship with our own lives. Our lives have no power on their own without our active interaction with them. In actuality it is us who have all the power to change each of our lives by changing our relationships with it. All it takes is for us to really realize this and each of our lives can be under our command rather than us being under their command.

Our lives would be completely meaningless without us. The environment and events occurring around us have no meaning in and of themselves. The meaning comes out of our relationship with them. That is what truly matters. 

For example, the circumstances, people and objects we desire in our lives are not desirable on their own. They are uniquely desirable to each of us because we each have defined them in that way. Each person has their own particular perspective of life, their joys, fears and so on and it is their perspective that gives birth to their particular way of life.

Now, take a look at your own life and see how you have defined many of the things in it, both positively and negatively. The things you have defined as negative you will have a negative emotion towards, such as fear, doubt, anger and so on. Meanwhile the positively defined things will generate a positive emotion, such as happiness, joy, love, etc… The nature of your relationship dictates the effect that aspect of your life will have on it. So a negative relationship will only get a negative outcome. On the other hand, a positive relationship will provide a positive outcome.

Pay attention when you encounter an unsatisfactory aspect of your life and uncover the negative definitions you have about your relationship with that aspect. Simply redefine your relationship with it in a positive manner to reap the positive effects. 

You will know you have truly changed when an event you previously had a negative relationship with occurs in your life. If you still react negatively, with negative emotions, your relationship has not truly changed and you will still experience a negative effect from that event. Obviously if you react positively or neutrally, your relationship has changed and your desired effect will most likely occur, unless you have other hidden negative relationships. Be thorough in analyzing the relationships with your life to ensure you don’t miss any negative ones and you will slowly but surely know that you are now in control and are on your way to creating a positive life. 

Can it be that simple? Or is what I said all just a bunch of bullshit?

Try it and see if it works for you. It might just amaze you to see the resulting changes in your life! Let me know in any case.


Cause of Depression

There isn’t much true happiness in our society is there? For the most part, I see people in varying states of depression rather than happiness. I’m sure I can’t be the only one who sees it. All you have to do to see what I’m getting at is pick up a newspaper, watch some TV or just take a walk around their city or town.  

Through my interactions with people, both directly through personal contact and indirectly through information gained from the various forms of media, I have come to the conclusion that most of us can be categorized into three main groups based on our emotional state: the first group is a small but growing number of people who are outright depressed and seek medical or psychological assistance. The second group is much more rare and subsequently consists of a much smaller number of people. These people are truly happy and maybe make up one to two percent of the population. The last group, which makes up the vast majority of us, are mildly to moderately depressed with intermittent short periods of happiness. For this last group, even these short periods of happiness consist of not true happiness but a happiness that is tinged with slight amounts of worry or fear that are temporarily repressed. This last group of people are also very good at hiding their true depression and so are difficult to recognize as people who are affected by it.

So the question I ask about all this is, why are so many of us depressed?

Again, speaking from my own experience and from studying those few people who are truly happy, I have come to associate true happiness, which I believe is the opposite of depression, with the total freedom for a person to be who they want to be, to experience their life the way they want to experience it without fear of reprisal. 

However, the vast majority of us are not living life the way we want. We are pretending to be someone that we know deep down we do not want to be and are pretending to be happy. We have given up all hope to live life the way we want or maybe relegated our hope to sometime in the future, perhaps when we get away from it all on that next holiday or when we retire from the workforce. The concept of a depression free life has almost become a sort of fantasy for us.  

So how did we become this way? Why do we live life the way we do and can we do anything about it?

Not only do I believe that we can do something about it but I also believe we can do it without the mass medicating and institutionalizing that we have been turning to increasingly often, especially in the western world.

In order to solve this problem and cure our depression we must first understand it. To understand it we must find the root cause of it and see how it creates the unwanted effects in our lives.

To help illustrate the causes and effects of depression on a typical person let’s introduce a character named Sally. Sally is what most would refer to as a typical person in our society. She is middle-aged, in the middle class and is married with a child. She has experienced much depression in her life and still has not found true happiness. Let’s take a look and see how some particular experiences in different stages of her life created her sense of unhappiness or depression.

Before getting into Sally’s story I would like to state that I believe all depression is fundamentally based on a belief in one’s own worthlessness and powerlessness. For Sally, this belief was instilled in her early childhood when she quickly learned that her sense of self-worth, happiness and belonging were determined by her parents’ approval of her.

So in Sally’s world if her parents approved of her she felt like she was loved and deserving and happy. If Sally behaved well she would receive toys, eat her favourite foods and get treated very lovingly. But if she didn’t behave well and her parents did not approve of her she was told she did not deserve those things. As a result of this she would then obviously feel unloved.

Because of Sally’s need for acceptance and love from her parents and her dependence on them for physical survival, she learned to modify her behaviour in ways that were acceptable to them. This caused very little issue in childhood for her other than the odd outburst of protest against her parents’ efforts to change her behaviour. (As a side note, I believe all protest, in childhood or otherwise, is created when a party feels they are being victimized by another and are not allowed to exist in the manner they wish to. It is usually an expression of feeling powerless against the other party) 

Now, most of Sally’s childhood protests were dealt with swiftly by her parents, mainly by some form of punishment. This is how Sally, feeling the bitter taste of disapproval from her parents, quickly learned to modify her behaviour to fit in with her parents’ expectations and regain that sweet feeling of acceptance and approval.

A cycle of behaviour correction was instigated in which first, Sally acted in ways that felt natural to her but were against her parents’ expectations. This was followed by her parents correcting it, many times to her utter bewilderment. This may not seem like a very big deal to some, but over time the constant correction and the corresponding beliefs Sally picked up about life have sub-consciously influenced her behaviour in a significant way into her adult life. 

A couple of years later in Sally’s childhood, she entered the schooling system and was introduced to another type of influential adult, her teacher. The initial experience of school was a very influential one on Sally as she learned that there were other adults other than her parents that she must gain the approval of in order to be loved and accepted.

Most children in her class were eager to gain the approval of their teacher, but Sally again felt more stings of disapproval, this time from both her teacher and her parents, when she behaved in ways that were unacceptable to her teacher.

School and its grading system added more pressure on Sally to change her behaviour and meet external expectations. She tried very hard to finish her homework and get good grades, all of this in an effort to gain acknowledgement from her parents.

Years later, Sally grew into a teenager and entered high school. While she was there, she had her first real emotional breakdown. Through her new perspective she realized that much of her life had been and still was controlled by others and she felt powerless. She had very little say in both major areas of her life. Both school life and home life were filled with authoritative adults constantly attempting to control her.

To counteract her feeling of powerlessness, Sally started working as a sales clerk in a clothing store so that she could feel a little more independent. While she was working she enjoyed the feeling of being able to spend some money and be in control of certain aspects of her life. 

With her newly found sense of independence, she started asserting herself. However, at this point she started to clash with her parents, who didn’t approve of some of her activities or her friends and subsequently introduced a 10 o’clock curfew for her. Yet again Sally still didn’t feel in control of her life and sub-consciously turned her attention to the only thing she truly felt she was in control of: her body. 

She decided to get a tattoo and some body piercings, seeing them as ways to express her uniqueness and declaring to the world that she was in control of her body. Acting under the influence of this mentality she even started experimenting with drugs and drinking while partying with friends. As a result of this she regained the feeling of being in control of something and it felt great.

Meanwhile, Sally became pretty popular at school and she gravitated to those who accepted her, while she started to ignore her parents, who argued with her constantly. 

Later on in high school, Sally rebelled less as her parents relented some of their control, realizing that she will be going away to college soon anyways. However, during this period of her life, Sally and her parents began to drift apart noticeably. She became increasingly secretive with them about her life as she did not like the feeling of being judged. They would never be quite on the same page again and both parties held some hidden disappointment and resentment for each other.

Now, Sally graduated from high school and continued on to university, even though she wasn’t really sure about what she wanted to study. In high school she was required to take most of her courses and didn’t really find anything she was truly passionate about. However, she continued to university seeing it as the only choice if she wanted to be successful in life. 

The first year of university was bliss for Sally. She really felt in control. For the first time she could do things that were forbidden to her previously. She could skip class, party every night or sleep in until two in the afternoon without much immediate reprisal. It was pretty awesome. 

However, Sally quickly learned that she had to sacrifice her partying to focus on the studying aspect of university. As much as she loved the partying, she hated studying courses she had no real interest in. Again, she saw no real choice other than to continue studying and hopefully find her passion in the future. It would be way too costly to jump around and try different programs so she decided to stick with the one she was in.

As the years of college went by, Sally focused more heavily on studying while growing increasingly depressed. She hated that her life was still influenced by the decisions of others, this time it was her professors. She especially hated that she had to adapt to the university curriculum’s requirements and that there appeared to be no other choice for her, other than quitting and risking a life of mediocrity. She couldn’t wait to get out of college and be free from the restrictive life of studying.

After four years at university, Sally graduated with a degree in business administration. It wasn’t really her passion per se but she liked the possibility of a good paying, stable job. She looked forward with excitement at starting her job at a bank so that she could get her own apartment and pay off her debts. She was beginning to feel good again.

Some years later Sally was not enjoying her career nearly as much as before. Her job was becoming extremely tedious. She craved some sort of excitement but she continued to hang in there, due to the stability her job provided and the possibility of a promotion with greater pay. Around this time Sally also began to have a nagging feeling of loneliness and depression. The reason? Some of her friends had gotten married and started families while she couldn’t seem to find Mr. Right.

FInally, after many dates with increased desperation, Sally met a great guy and they fell in love. She felt absolutely great! She felt like she found someone who loved her and accepted her and the feeling of being loved was simply ecstatic.  

Sally married her great guy and everything was great. Her new husband, David, was showering her with affection and she felt very special and loved. After some time though, it didn’t continue that way. Slowly, David and Sally got used to being married and the excitement wore off. They were mostly content, except for the occasional argument.

Their relationship almost came to an end one day when Sally had yet another emotional breakdown. The cause this time was that she felt that David didn’t love her like he used to and she started to feel worthless. While talking things out with David she decided that maybe what she really wanted was a baby. 

Sally continued on her emotional roller-coaster and was now happy again. She had her baby and the feeling of being responsible for the little helpless bundle of joy was intoxicating to her and David. She felt needed and valuable. Her baby was completely dependent on her and she would make every effort to succeed in her responsibility to it. As a result of the birth Sally and David’s marriage made a turn for the better as they now had a common interest in their baby.

All the non-satisfying aspects of Sally’s life now fell away. The amount of satisfaction she got out of them (or the lack of it) didn’t matter anymore. She was a mom and that was most important to her. Even if she had a terrible day at work, coming home to a baby that was fed and content gave her instant acknowledgement of her value. It made her feel extremely valuable and appreciated. Her baby made her feel like nobody could and she soaked up all the love from it. 

Now, since the baby meant so much to Sally and since she did not want to lose the source of her validation, she took every step to make sure it was safe. Even as it grew, she did not want any accident happening to it and she started correcting its behaviour, much like her parents did to her. Furthermore, her ability to control the behaviour of her child gave her a sense of power, which she did not receive from any other aspect of her life. Her sense of self-value was based on her child’s well being; she would consider herself worthy of living and being happy only if her child was healthy, happy and successful as she saw fit and so she invested all of her effort into raising it. The hopes and dreams she had for herself when she was younger were now put into the child.

Now we get back to the present day and the cycle is complete. Sally will raise her child in somewhat of a similar way to how her parents raised her. Some form of this type of cycle has occurred for generations in most every family and I believe it has caused much of the sadness and depression in our world. 

Now, for Sally’s parents, they themselves became very depressed after Sally went to college, when they realized that their child had grown up. Being responsible for Sally meant the world to them and they now felt valueless because she no longer needed them. They turned to their marriage and realized that they did not work out their issues before Sally was born and now had grown apart. Their case is the classic “empty-nest syndrome” that many parents, mothers in particular, experience.

Obviously, the story of Sally is a highly condensed version of a typical life. The events in it may or may not be experienced by everybody but I think most people can at the least relate to the feelings Sally experienced as a result of the events. 

So why did Sally feel depressed? The two core reasons that continued to cause depression throughout the stages of her life were:

  • Sally was searching for validation of herself in external circumstances and relationships. She believed that she needed the approval of others in order to validate her own existence. She looked to her parents, teachers, professors, employers, her husband and finally her child for validation. Sally followed through life by changing herself to fit others’ expectations while looking for their acceptance and it hurt her tremendously when she inevitably couldn’t find it.
  • Sally felt powerless over the direction of her life. Whenever she felt that decisions were made for her by others or that others had a great influence over her life she felt powerless and became depressed. This sometimes led to conflict against those she felt were in power. Conflicts also arose in Sally’s life when, as a result of feeling powerless in other aspects of her life, she tried to control others so that she could feel powerful and in control of something.

The influence of some of these events in Sally’s life and their similarity to many in our own lives leads me to believe that the cause of most of the depression affecting our lives can be attributed to experiences that leave us feeling powerless or worthless in some form. 

So now that we know the cause of the depression and the effects of it on our lives, how can we fix it?

The way we can cure most forms of depression is to change our beliefs about ourselves and our lives. The people who are happy in our society are that way because their beliefs are fundamentally different than those of us who are not happy. In order to cure our depression I believe we should emulate their beliefs in our own unique way. 

The most crucial among these beliefs is each person’s total acceptance and belief in themselves. This means that each person must validate themselves and accept themselves for who they are, including their desires. Each of us must stop judging ourselves by comparing ourselves with others and looking to others for validation. We must know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we belong where we are, exactly as we are and that we deserve all that we desire to experience in life, simply because we exist. I briefly talked about this belief and being our own unique selves in another post. If anyone wants to take a read, they can do so here.

(As a side note, my other post on Brene Brown’s TED talk mentions how people who live happy lives are okay with being vulnerable. Furthermore, their willingness to be vulnerable is based on a belief in their own deservability and belonging.) 

The effects of the new belief would be monumental and would affect almost every aspect of life as we know it. No longer would we live our lives constantly searching for external validation of ourselves. This would allow each person to fully express themselves as they uniquely are and live their life as only they saw fit. The sole determining factor for the direction of each of our lives would be our own desired experiences rather than primarily meeting others’ expectations of us.

This does not mean that we will be a society of self-absorbed, selfish people. Rather, it means that each person will be the strongest individual they can be and will express themselves using the new belief in the completeness of who they are. As a result each person will not see the need to force others to comply with their needs and will not allow themselves to comply with others, unless it is their personal desire to do so. I believe this will lead to a stronger society made up of happy, complete and equal individuals rather than the society we have now, which is a majority of unhappy individuals constantly striving and sustaining a small, ruling group. I will describe these sociological effects in detail in my next post.

Self-validation of each person would lead to a change in the other main belief that causes depression: that we are not powerful enough to create the lives we desire. Since each person would be self-validated and would know they deserve to belong and to exist as they are, there would be little need for control of others or of situations in life in the hope of gaining external approval.

I believe this would also lead to an easing of much of the conflict in our world since most conflict is created when one individual or group does not validate themselves or their own perspective and seeks to control others and force their perspective on others as a form of gaining validation. They feel that their perspective is powerless and worthless and try to prove its strength and validity by lashing out at others.

All relationships would be expressions of unconditional love and acceptance between its members since each person would not need the other person(s) to behave in a certain way, but would rather accept them for who they are. Divorce rates would surely drop as a result of this and family bonds would remain strong as well. Even if a relationship comes to an end, it would be with no sense of loss or animosity, but rather an acceptance.

Of course, this also means many of the hierarchical structures that are rampant in our society would end. These would mostly be replaced by structures of equal sharing and participation. Relationships between groups and between individuals in groups would all be maintained in this manner. 

Now, since I am learning to be confident in my own perspective and respect others’ as well, I am not proselytizing that we must live this way. But, I do believe we will inevitably be making progress in this direction, both individually and collectively. This is mainly because the consequence of not moving in this direction is pretty dire. The rate of depression would keep rising and it would become much too painful for many to live. Essentially the quality of our lives depends on these changes, but it is up to each and every one of us to realize this and incorporate the new beliefs.

In my next post I will be talking about how the same core belief of not belonging has created the current structure of our society and how the same structure helps reinforce our collective depression.

Please let me know your thoughts on any of my posts. What do you think of this one? Do you agree or disagree with my perspective? 


Spike Lee’s documentary on a day at “work” for Kobe Bryant.

This was pretty inspirational for myself as it reinforces my belief in the importance of finding your passion and doing what you love to do.  

Seeing Kobe’s passion for the game of basketball and the extreme sense of satisfaction he gets from playing makes it very apparent that living life in a passionate way is crucial to happiness for anyone and everyone.