Happiness is not neutral

Even though intelligent and highly educated, doctors have no knowledge of any road of happiness. Nor do they have any roadmap to happiness. They may be skeptical if you told them one exists. They do have and use a medical road map which they have been taught to use in their training. We, their patients, tend to use their Medical Roadmap model as our guide, because we had no knowledge of any other.

The medical roadmap goes from sick to well; not from unhappy to happy.

Psychiatrists are doctors, modern psychotherapy originated with them (i.e. Freud). They tend to be the leaders of the psychotherapists and psychotherapy.  But they most often use the roadmap of their medical training. They have no roadmap to happiness, only a roadmap from sick to well. That is less than halfway there. It is relatively easy for me to help someone feel “well,”  meaning to lose the feelings of emotional fear, pain (depression), and anger. Everyone feels entitled to be well. But when I try to help them make themselves feel happy, I meet resistance. Deep down, many people do not feel entitled to be happy.

In all of my medical, psychiatric, psychoanalytic training, I never took a course about what is happy, only what is sick and/or unhappy. I wrote a whole chapter my book, “A Scream Away from Happiness,” about emotional health. The chapter remains very valid, because one cannot sustain of a feeling of happiness without being emotionally healthy. But one can be emotionally healthy without knowing the degree of happiness one is missing. I did not write a chapter on happiness because I still did not see or know a whole area was missing. I did not know it, because I had never experienced it. Having never felt more pleasure, I was emotionally deaf, dumb and blind to the fact that more pleasure existed. Until the telescope was invented, we did not know there was more to the heavens than could be seen by the naked eye.

I did not know that happiness in neutral, the absence of pain, are two different things. I did not fully comprehend or understand happiness in its total separate entity. I did not even imagine that a person could feel happier than he was feeling for no apparent reason, or that the basic quantity or quality of happiness could be increased. I could not comprehend the significance of what the feeling of happiness chronically deep down in my gut would do for me. It changed a nice life (i.e. a “positive neutral”) which was professionally and financially successful, into a very happy life with a chronic feeling of a Joie de vivra and which, incidentally, became more successful. I knew people could live in a chronic state of fear, pain (depression) or anger, but the thought never dawned on me that people can live in a chronic state of happiness. Chronic, to me, had a very negative connotation. The feeling of happiness is part of me now. That does not mean I do not feel anger, pain or fear from time to time, but now I deal with my everyday world differently.

In retrospect as a child I had a chronic underlying depression I did not know I had. As an adolescent and into my early 30s, I had a chronic underlying anxiety which I knew I had but thought was “natural.” After 7 1/2 years of a basically painful, anxiety stimulating psychoanalysis, I ended up “well.” In reality, I ended up neutral and turned off.

It was my patients, not my teachers, who turned me onto pleasure, happiness and love as I understand it and experience it today. I was finally able to learn for my patients when I experienced them emotionally as my peers. I had a hard time doing that, but they, with the support of each other in a group forced me to change. In retrospect, it was much easier to elevate my patients from underlings to peers, then it would have been to elevate myself to that level of my teachers. My teachers were always my authoritative non-peers. It is such a relief to feel everyone is my peer. Now I do not have to feel guilty, frightened, angry, or depressed, that someone is better than me or not as good as me.

The important fact is that happiness is a feeling, not a thing. Many people do not know what will make them happy. Like the Russian, some people will say, “Of course I am happy, nobody is breaking down my door.”

These articles follow my process. The process is the only one I know of whose goal is not merely the reduction of symptomatic pain. (Symptoms are a defense developed to avoid pain but which usually cause infinitely more pain). The goal of my process is the pursuit of pleasure and learning how to live a more fulfilling, happier life. The process makes it relatively easy and quick to find out why you have been feeling badly, even to feel better. What really takes time is the reinforcement of positive thinking, feelings, and actions, so that one can sustain a way of life which is fulfilling and happy.

In order to get permanent change, one has to practice and reinforce the reeducation of the A.B.C.’s of one’s personality. Changing one’s mind is not simple, but it is not hard either if you know how to do it.

To me, now, happiness is a positive input of pleasure, and not merely a reduction of pain. For almost 45 years, happiness to me was a reduction of pain, tension, and fear. At best, it was a feeling of pleasant neutrality. I did not know it then. I know it now. Then I thought I was happy. If one gives a beggar on the streets of Calcutta a half of loaf of stale bread, and it is more that he has ever had, and it is more than his beggar friends have, he will be happy.  Happiness is relative to our experience.

I did not comprehend from my experience that people could live in a joyful state, perhaps children, but not adults. Those that appeared to be happy all the time I thought were not comprehending the reality of adult life. Fortunately for me, I kept my mouth shut and my thoughts to myself. I heard of the French “Joie de Vivre”… joy of living… but I interpreted that as an absence of pain.

In 1950–52, during the Korean War, I lived among the Okinawans. I interpreted their “joie de vivre” as primitive-childlike, especially since at that time they had almost no material possessions. They were dependent on the U.S. occupation forces for their survival.

I have found the road, I have traveled on it, and I have made a roadmap for others. For those who wish, I will be your guide.

Our roadmap to happiness is based on nature’s model. It is not the medical model. Unlike the medical model that goes from sick to well, our roadmap goes from pain to pleasure, from unhappy to happy.

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