Often when discussing personal problems, I get told, "Just be grateful for what you have and then life will be happier for you."
It's always seemed like great advice, and so I've taken it multiple times. Given the numerous stories and testimonies shared on the subject, it seems like it should work great.
Maybe it's that I'm naturally pessimistic (or as one professor called me, a true nihilist -- I still resent that), or maybe it's because my world seems incredibly dark right now. Or maybe I'm trying too hard?
For some reason, counting my blessings instead of sheep not only keeps me up at night, but it also triggers high levels of anxiety and ever more frequent feelings of emptiness. As counting sheep merely bores me, I've started preferring that to listing good things that happened during the day or ticking off the things I've been given -- boredom feels better than emptiness.
Saying that it's simply listing good things isn't the process, mind you. You've got to sincerely foster an appreciation for the things, people, and opportunities placed in your life. And I've tried that. I've tried looking around at my life and truly appreciating what I have -- sometimes I even find myself thinking, "Wow. Look at you -- you're one lucky girl." And I believe it.
Then, right after that, the pain starts again, the emptiness becomes a choking cord around my throat, and the dark closes in, heavy and cold.
Somehow, being grateful for good things brings horrible, devastating guilt. It's as though by attempting to feel happiness, the sadness deepens. Light and joy seem far above my head, and either the floor beneath my feet is dropping at a rapid pace, or my arms are shrinking: either way, I can't reach what I desire. Instead of feeling my chin lift hopefully, I feel a weight increase until I can barely stand, arms wrapped tight around me as I hold myself together on the floor.
Why? I don't understand it. I don't understand how searching for happiness -- maybe not even happiness, but just some relief -- and doing all of the good things I can do only makes things feel worse.
I don't get it.