Don’t worry, be happy?
An article I had written for the Athens News, “Holidays and the Meaning of Life” prompted a correspondence between me and Omar who was not only struggling with bouts of depression, but with existential concerns as well.
Omar had stopped taking the antidepressant medication that his psychiatrist had prescribed and was hoping that psychotherapy might be more effective than pharmacotherapy. Therefore, he took the plunge and started talk therapy with me.
To his dismay the psychiatrist he was seeing was impatient with his existential concerns and was not willing to engage him in such discussions because she considered them futile.
Part of his problem was that not only his psychiatrist but the people in his life in general, friends, foes, and loved ones shared the concensus “ don’t worry, be happy”. They were proponents of the belief that one is happier surfing in the shallow level of life than going into the existential depths of it. After all what would be the point of asking questions to which we are in no position to receive conclusive answers, he was frequently told.
So it was to his surprise that I not only engaged with him in discussions pondering the big existential questions regarding the existence of God and the meaningfulness or meaninglessness of life, but I did so with great enthusiasm.
It just so happens that I favor an existential-humanistic approach to therapy.
By frequently engaging with Omar in meaningful conversations our therapeutic relationship became strong. Our interpersonal connection and the substantive discourse helped him shed his depression. Interpersonal connection and integration are a core, fudamental foundation of happiness.