Thursday, February 10, 2005

The quest for happiness

Happiness is attained through fidelity to a worthy purpose.
- Helen Keller, 19th century deaf and blind activist.

As for happiness, it is not something you experience, it's something you remember.
- Mark Twain

Captain Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin participated in one of the greatest technological feats of the 20th century--he was one of the first two men to walk on the moon.

Then something very unexpected happened. In just a few short years after his historic voyage, his life had turned from success to the brink of disaster. Instead of basking in the glow of his heroic achievement, he sagged into a state of such severe depression that it nearly ruined him and his family.

Buzz slid from the mountaintop of achievement into a valley of despair. "I had been immersed in just one project--going to the moon," Aldrin reflected.

"I had gone to the moon. . . . What possible goal could I add now. There simply wasn't one."
And when the emptiness set in with no hope of ever finding purpose in life again, he became depressed.

Some, like Buzz Aldrin, become depressed after they reach their goals and find that there is nothing left to live for. Others slip into a state of depression when hope for what has not been reached seems lost--hope for a caring companion, hope for a successful career, hope for enough money to pay the bills, hope for a reconciled relationship, hope for relief from a stressful situation, or hope for the fulfillment of a long-cherished dream.

One young woman was struck down in the prime of life with a crippling disease. Not only did she lose hope of ever again experiencing activities she once enjoyed, but her hopes for a husband and a family came crashing down when her fiancé broke off their engagement.

While some might have found the energy to continue, she felt stretched beyond what she could endure. Before long her grief turned to despair and eventually to depression.

Regardless of how it comes about, depression can afflict the soul as few other personal experiences can. Left unattended, it can develop into a severe struggle that drains life of its hope and energy.

The path is difficult for all who stagger through the darkness of depression.

Gloom, confusion, and loneliness can hound the soul relentlessly.

But no matter how painfully taxing the path becomes, one must believe that the best is yet ahead.

"If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?"


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