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So often people ask: "How do I know if I am depressed or just sad?" There is a significant difference between clinical depression, sadness and not being happy. There is also another category which is loneliness, which is very complex and one of the worst emotions that we as a human being have.

Depression is an diagnosable illness with specific symptoms and criteria and there is a need to seek help and treatment. There are often has a genetic contribution to depression. Depression affects the way that you function, sleeping habits and the way that you think. Depression can feel so unmanageable much of the time, a loss of control of your life. There are ways to manage it, with therapy and sometimes medication, but there is usually the need for an outside intervention to improve ones functioning.

Sadness is a feeling that we have with grief and many environmental or situational events in our lives. Sadness is something you have to acknowledge, allow yourself to feel and move forward or progress with life. There are things in life that hurt and sadness is necessary though very few people will tell you that they enjoy the days of tears and uncertainty. Sadness is difficult because we too often hide our sadness because we are supposed to be "OK." So when people ask we say that we are "OK" or "fine" because to admit we are having issues with sadness may cause us shame, which this in itself is sad. (We should be able to feel without feeling ashamed of our feelings.)

Lack of happiness, well this is something that you control with your decisions. If you are not happy, look in the mirror, determine what is missing, what needs to change, what you would like out of you life and make a conscious decision to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

Happiness is something that we all have control over, though most of us lose sight of this due to expectations of others and self doubt. We all have opportunity to be happy. We all have the ability to be happy. We are often too busy seeing that we are not happy to actually put in the effort and make the changes to become happy. We once again get in our own way of being happy (though we can always blame someone or something else).

We have forgotten that happiness is possible because we tell ourselves that doing for others makes us happy, or other people are more important, or we are undeserving of being happy, but none of this is true, just the message you give yourself each day. The truth is that we all have a choice to make everyday. If you want to lose weight choose not to eat the triple chocolate cake in the lounge, go for a walk instead. If you want to grow in your career, make a choice to work hard and excel, not just show up for the check.

Life happens (good and bad) and we age, have families and we lose focus on wants and dreams and we begin to settle for what we get. This is not happiness and it is not living. Though sometimes the options are difficult to find, and may even be a risk, there are options and there are ways to find our happiness. People have been known to buy their first home at 60 years old, go back to school in their 40s with three kids, change careers close to retirement... because they wanted to be happy. So what would make you happy... truly help you wake up with a smile on your face and enjoy the day, the week the month. Happiness is possible for all of us no matter where we are in our life at this point, just a matter of choosing to change.

Honestly, when we have experienced so much life and so many things have gotten in the way we do tend to lose any sense of what makes us happy or we give up on the possibility of happiness, we 'settle.' So like many things in our life, we need to sit down and think about this and sometimes engage parts of us that we have covered up because we had to 'grow up' or deal with life events that got in the way of the wants and dreams we have. Sometimes we also have to be honest with ourselves that we may have given up on the idea that we are capable of being happy. This however is not true. We are all capable of being happy, but sometimes it takes a little bit of work, courage and will to be happy. When you can decide that settling and surviving are no longer where you want to be, then make the choice to BE HAPPY.

CARRIE NICKLES, LPC, IS A FORMER COUNSELOR WITH OZARK GUIDANCE AND IS SEEING PATIENTS TUESDAYS & THURSDAYS AT PRAIRIE GROVE HEALTH AND WELLNESS CENTER. CONTACT HER AT CARRIE.NICKLES@GMAIL.COM.

Community on 01/09/2019

Print Headline: Make The Choice To Be Happy

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