Many years ago a friend, feeling depressed, called a mental health hot-line. She expected the person answering to listen patiently to all her woes, to empathize, to offer gentle support–but what she received was the opposite. Before she could sing her blues, the hot-line counselor cut her off.
“When were you the happiest?” the counselor asked.
My friend answered easily, recounting details of a very happy period of her life: where she lived, who she hung out with, how she worked for income, which activities she enjoyed in her free time, and so on. As she spoke, my friend noticed that she felt better just thinking about that happy time and talking about it. However, she was not prepared for the crisis counselor’s response, which was shockingly abrupt.
“Do that!” he advised.
My friend sputtered in disbelief. She started to tell the counselor “It’s not that simple,” but he interrupted. “Do that!” he said, ending the conversation.
At the time, my friend thought the crisis counselor had been harsh, but now she knows his words were a gift; he showed her the essence of happiness. Seek happiness by doing what makes you happy. How simple it seems–and how readily we stand in our own way.