Over 12% of Americans take antidepressant medication; yet, this number represents only about the third of the people who are in need of this type of medical help. Over 76 million people in the world suffer from alcohol related illnesses, such as alcohol dependence. Over 246 million souls turn to drug worldwide and 27 millions are problem users. Over 1.8 billion adults are overweight and about 600 million of them are obese. Over 1 million human beings commit suicide, which means that someone dies in every 40 seconds who has decided to take the final exit out of life. Shall I go on with the list? Or, maybe, I should just stop and ask the obvious question: Why are we so miserable?
I am sure there are a lot of attempted answers for it. The biological answer has always been that chemical changes happen in the brain. But, is it really that simple? Or, is this an oversimplified answer to something much bigger than chemistry? After all, why does this chemical change take place? If the biological answer fails, the sociological answer follows. This is nurture versus nature issue where we neglect nurture in the form of creating less than ideal condition to live our lives. The question becomes then: What is the ideal condition? The post-industrialized nations are the wealthiest, yet, the problems seem to be the greatest in these countries. Wealth is obviously not the answer. Is it nature then? Did nature create certain people this way? If it were true, then, we would not have a increasing number of sufferers in the world; the numbers would be steady. So, why are we so miserable?
Let’s look at examples for our misery. He does not call after the first date and the teenager is ready to take her life. He does not get into medical school and falls into depression because he is convinced that he is the biggest disappointment to his parents. She writes a great book, but people are not interested in buying it and not interested even in reading it when she provides it for free; and, as a result, she eats a bucket of ice cream every evening. She does not win an election, losing to a wealthy business man, and she goes into hiding, feeling ashamed or distraught. He does not finish well in an athletic competition that he spent years putting every ounce of energy into it and he start drinking. She cannot get pregnant even though this should be the most natural thing in the world for a woman and she turns to prescription medication to ease the emotional pain. He is called a loser by a relative and turns to drugs. She is sexually abused as a child by an adult she trusts and feels anxious to be alone with people. He is told to man-up and do things he does not feel right about, but pressured to do so and needs a strong drink to get through it. She is bullied for not fitting into a popular crowd and tries to end her life.
So, why are we so miserable? On the surface, it seems that the answers are a combination of disappointment, pain, betrayal, failure and loss of hope. Beyond the surface though, the ultimate description seems to be: “I am not good enough”. I am not good enough because he did not call, because I did not make it to medical school, because people do not read my book, because I was unable to win the election, because I did not win the competition, because I cannot get pregnant, because I am a loser, because he abused me, because I am not man enough and because I do not fit in. I am not good enough. Sounds familiar? We are the not-good-enough society.
Why do we feel that we are not good enough? We feel that, if we were good enough, we would be more successful, luckier, happier, more trustworthy etc… But, why do we care about this “more”? We care because this more represents being loved. Being good enough, being “more”, means that we have a proof of being loved. If he called, I would know that I am lovable. If I made it to medical school, my parent would be proud of me. If people read my book, this would mean that they appreciate my work. If I won the election, I am wanted as much as a man is wanted in politics. If I can get pregnant, mother nature would honour my womanhood. If my relative stopped calling me a loser, I would feel loved and wanted in my family. If he did not abuse me, I would feel more loved and protected. If I were man enough, I would belong more and feel more appreciated. If they did not bully me, I would belong more within my peer group. Basically, we just want to be loved.
We feel unloved. This is our greatest illness in the world. We want to do more because we do not feel good enough and, therefore, loved enough. We crave love from others in the form of lovability, pride, appreciation, equality, honour, belonging, safety and protection. We want others to make us feel loved. We are waiting for others to provide the love to cure our illness of being unloved.
The problem is that others do not always provide the love we want. This is the reason we make ourselves feel sick and miserable. Yet, the cure is so simple. If they do not provide the love, we can always provide it for ourselves. We can love ourselves, even if we they do not love us. We can love ourselves just the way we are even if he does not call, we do not get into medical school, they do not buy the book, we do not win the election, we do not get pregnant, he calls me a loser, he abuses me, they bully me. We can still love ourselves. Why? We can because we are still lovable. We are lovable independent of what happens. Love is not a prize we have to be worthy of. Love is not dependent on anything. We can love ourselves just the way we are no matter what happens in our lives. We can choose to love ourselves.
If we chose to love ourselves “simply because”, we would be not just less miserable, but also happier. So, let’s do it! Let’s improve on the statistics! Today!