But are you happy?

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But are you happy?

How do you even function?”

I get asked that ques­tion a lot these days. After I got back from a week long work trip (my first time out since Rebecca died), some peo­ple were shocked that I’d even con­sider leav­ing home. To go to work, travel and in gen­eral try to func­tion at a pre­vi­ously nor­mal level is appar­ently so…not normal?

Viewed one way, Rebecca’s death was the lat­est in a string of crappy events in my life. Before that, my wife had a crappy preg­nancy, includ­ing find­ing out about a heart defect and hav­ing a doc­tor essen­tially rec­om­mend we abort her based on a crummy med­ical test. Even before that, I had a crappy job in Hawaii, my dog died while I was on island, and my master’s degree almost didn’t hap­pen due to the government’s con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion. Hawaii was not par­adise for me. I had plenty to be depressed about.

But I don’t view my life as a string of unfor­tu­nate events. While I don’t ignore the hard stuff, I cer­tainly don’t let it con­trol me. I think about what I learned from it and move for­ward. More impor­tantly, I look for the good things that hap­pened, and if you look, there is plenty to be happy about.

It wor­ries me that I’m appar­ently the excep­tion to the rule. I worry that we’ve become a clin­i­cally depressed soci­ety, where we sim­ply med­icate our prob­lems away or worse, insist that we live our day to day life unable to main­tain a con­sis­tently pos­i­tive view on our future. I worry that our young peo­ple get told to seek hap­pi­ness in free sex, mate­r­ial goods, a col­lege edu­ca­tion, or a vari­ety of other fleet­ing escapes, and then are shocked when they are truly not happy. I worry that the depres­sion causes peo­ple to dam­age them­selves in long term ways.

We had two things that worked quite well to break depres­sion: a strong faith and strong per­sonal con­nec­tions. But it isn’t cool to have faith any­more (unless it’s the kind that doesn’t have all those pesky rules), and our Face­book and smart phone cul­ture is break­ing down our per­sonal con­nec­tions. Those solid con­nec­tions kept us steady dur­ing the storms in our lives. Now, instead, we drift through life, blown around by what­ever the lat­est whim or fancy is.

It doesn’t have to be that way. We can turn back to the foun­da­tion that made us strong before. Over this past week­end, I stopped check­ing my Face­book sta­tus and started call­ing peo­ple I hadn’t talked to in months. You know those con­ver­sa­tions you have where both par­ties don’t want to stop? I had a bunch of those. It made me look for­ward to the future.

Hap­pi­ness isn’t going to find you. It’s going to require you to find it.


This post rep­re­sents the views of the author and not those of the Depart­ment of Defense, Depart­ment of the Navy, or any other gov­ern­ment agency.

Please check out my blog and donate to Da Tech Guy!

“How do you even function?”

I get asked that question a lot these days.  After I got back from a week long work trip (my first time out since Rebecca died), some people were shocked that I’d even consider leaving home.  To go to work, travel and in general try to function at a previously normal level is apparently so…not normal?

Viewed one way, Rebecca’s death was the latest in a string of crappy events in my life.  Before that, my wife had a crappy pregnancy, including finding out about a heart defect and having a doctor essentially recommend we abort her based on a crummy medical test.  Even before that, I had a crappy job in Hawaii, my dog died while I was on island, and my master’s degree almost didn’t happen due to the government’s continuing resolution.  Hawaii was not paradise for me.  I had plenty to be depressed about.

But I don’t view my life as a string of unfortunate events.  While I don’t ignore the hard stuff, I certainly don’t let it control me.  I think about what I learned from it and move forward.  More importantly, I look for the good things that happened, and if you look, there is plenty to be happy about.

It worries me that I’m apparently the exception to the rule.  I worry that we’ve become a clinically depressed society, where we simply medicate our problems away or worse, insist that we live our day to day life unable to maintain a consistently positive view on our future.  I worry that our young people get told to seek happiness in free sex, material goods, a college education, or a variety of other fleeting escapes, and then are shocked when they are truly not happy.  I worry that the depression causes people to damage themselves in long term ways.

We had two things that worked quite well to break depression: a strong faith and strong personal connections.  But it isn’t cool to have faith anymore (unless it’s the kind that doesn’t have all those pesky rules), and our Facebook and smart phone culture is breaking down our personal connections.  Those solid connections kept us steady during the storms in our lives.  Now, instead, we drift through life, blown around by whatever the latest whim or fancy is.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  We can turn back to the foundation that made us strong before.  Over this past weekend, I stopped checking my Facebook status and started calling people I hadn’t talked to in months.  You know those conversations you have where both parties don’t want to stop?  I had a bunch of those.  It made me look forward to the future.

Happiness isn’t going to find you.  It’s going to require you to find it.


This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Please check out my blog and donate to Da Tech Guy!