1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Afterlife Forums is an online, interactive community designed to give seekers direct access to prominent researchers, to afterlife literature, and to one another in order to foster both spiritual growth and public interest in life after death.

Why the pursuit of happiness naturally includes melancholy

Discussion in 'Spiritual Growth & Development' started by vic smyth, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. vic smyth

    vic smyth New Member

    Those of you that may or may not know me, I generally view the world with rose colored glasses (at least on my better days) and do not subscribe to the popular view on this forum that "we learn from suffering", so suffering is good. Then I read this article that really sheds some light on the subject and gives plenty of evidence that I might be wrong. So I thought I'd share it: Why the pursuit of happiness naturally includes melancholy

    With Lovingkindness (metta),
  2. Birki

    Birki Member

    Hi vic,

    I agree that one doesn't need suffering to progress spiritually. But, I do think it is possible to learn from suffering, though to me that does not mean "suffering is good". So I guess I don't really subscribe to what you consider the poplular view on this forum. However I really don't think the article you linked to argues for the matter one way or the other. It's just one guy's opinion about his view of the world. Frankly, I found it mildly depressing. ;)
  3. Fasaga

    Fasaga New Member

    Hi Vic

    All my life I've been accused of over optimism, so I too look at the world through the same glasses you do. As to the suffering and learning thing, I think that situations will always provide opportunity for learning, whether those situations are negative or possitive, there are lessons to be had, that's both spiritual and emotional growth, character building. I do not subscribe to the idea that the only reason we are put here (or choose to be here) is exclusively to learn lessons.

    I do however believe that there are experiences and growth that are exclusively available in a physical world and I will always believe that we are here to try and enjoy this life for what its worth, for the time we are living it, the lessons happen by default, not by design. Just my opinion.
  4. Celera

    Celera Active Member

    Vic, apart from any assessment of whose ideas are "right" or "wrong" -- whatever that means anyway -- I applaud your willingness to examine different ideas. If only we were all more open to considering new perspectives, we would all learn much more than we do from our sufferings. :)
  5. vic smyth

    vic smyth New Member

    Thank-you for your kind words. I often learn more from those that express views different from my own, than those who are in agreement with me. Whenever I read something and think, "Hmm, maybe I'm wrong and have to rethink my position", is when I truly grow.

    With Lovingkindness (metta),
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2012
  6. shantu

    shantu New Member

    I'd never say suffering is 'good', but I would say that suffering teaches us in an intense, focused way that an eternity of being content cannot. It is my opinion that this pressurised learning curve is one of the reasons our souls reincarnate on this particular planet. I'm reminded of the 'Diamond Self' concept from psychology where our lives are spent refining and rediscovering the diamond that is our true self and as we know, diamonds are created through extreme pressure...

    From personal experience I've learnt alot from depression and now, having spent half a life-time in a largely melancholic state, I am learning how to live in joy. It's quite a lesson!
  7. Annie

    Annie Member

    The man in this article claims that there is a big difference between melancholy (general sadness that you know isn't permanent) and depression, which feels more hopeless and devastating. I have to agree. I think that sadness I've experienced has made me a deeper person, has made me appreciate my happiness, has made me stronger and more interesting, and more empathetic. True suffering, however, that feeling that life has no lasting joy, where you don't want to wake up in the morning, that drives people to wish they were dead, or into committing atrocities...I don't think this is essential for spiritual growth. I think it can be a huge hindrance, actually, that makes us regress rather than progress. If this wasn't true then there wouldn't be hauntings from tormented earthbound spirits, and there wouldn't be an outer darkness that people condemn themselves to.

    I think that suffering comes out of free will. We come to earth with the best of intentions, but sometimes the struggle is too much. This is what spirit guides are there for, to do their best to make things more bearable so that you will feel happy again. I don't know, I mean, a lot of people say that some people come to earth with the intent to live a really hard life too though, but I'm guessing those are people who have really strong coping mechanisms and are not prone to depression.

    The definition of suffering isn't necessarily universal. Someone might go through a really rough experience and come out of it okay, get treatment if they need to, get support from others, and emerge just as happy as they were before. But another person might go through the same thing and completely unravel, suffer from post traumatic stress disorder from a very long time, and develop a much bleaker view of the world than they had before.
  8. vic smyth

    vic smyth New Member

    Hi Annie,

    Very well, put. Thank-you.

    With Lovingkindness (metta),
  9. william61

    william61 New Member

    Gee I don't know Annie. Without being flippant, I and my new found friends in my late wifes mutual support group must have been elsewhere when Spirit Guides were being issued. Happiness is such a rare and fleeting experience for most of the group.
  10. Annie

    Annie Member

    :( I'm sorry to hear this. I know that this probably seems unbearable, but don't give up asking your guides for good and better things to come your way in life, and talk to your wife often because I guarantee she is listening.

    This is what I meant by free will though. Your wife didn't come here with the intention to kill herself, just like you didn't come here to go through this much grief. We have control over our actions here, and sometimes there's nothing our guides can do to stop it, when they desperately want to. That being said, maybe they gave you a little nudge in the direction of your support group...while I'm sure it seems like a drop of happiness in the ocean of your suffering, these people will give you a little strength every time you see them, just as you will to them.
  11. mac

    mac senior member Staff Member

    It may be that there are too many expectations of the role of so-called spirit guides. They may not have the ability - or the right - to intercede in matters as we might expect them to and may not act at all in ways we expect or understand.

    Life in-the-body is a complex issue and the role of guides and helpers is not clear. As all too often, folk's beliefs may be more the situation than one involving facts.
  12. Bella

    Bella New Member

    Are you referring to the life agreement, or life contract issue? I know you don't like 'new age' stuff, so I am not sure how you feel about this.
  13. mac

    mac senior member Staff Member

    There's just as much ambiguity or confusion on so-called life agreements or contracts. Unless there's authoritative guidance from respected, spiritually-evolved teachers and guides then such issues may also be little more than personal beliefs.

    I always try to be open to persuasion although I won't accept woolly thinking or notions.
  14. Birki

    Birki Member

    Not to get off track, as I know you don't prefer that, but how do you determine who is respected, spiritually-evolved teachers and guides? At some point it must boil down to your own personal conclusions/thoughts/feelings/beliefs on what information to trust and what information to reject.
  15. mac

    mac senior member Staff Member

    Personal conclusions etc. based on the persuasiveness of the information given by teacher or guide. Personal conclusions etc. based on the views of others whose views I respect. Personal conclusions etc. based on my own assessment of teachers or guides.

    And personal conclusions based on my own studies, my personal understanding, my personal guidance.....
  16. vic smyth

    vic smyth New Member

    Very well put, Mac. Our spirit guides may be just as confused as we are. Or, if they are omniscient, they may only give us the occasional clue to keep us going. But if we are indeed here for an adventure, they're not going to plop the solution guide in our laps. maybe the uncertainty is part of their adventure as well.

    I don't buy into the life contract analogy, other than we freely chose to be here and experience this. An analogy that fits my worldview better is that our lives are an improv, we have a lot of leeway as to how we interpret or re-write our script.

    With Lovingkindness (metta),
  17. Birki

    Birki Member

    Good to know, I think it is good to keep in mind that everyone's personal guidance plays a role in their understanding of the greater reality.
  18. mac

    mac senior member Staff Member

    That was only one element in my earlier response and undue importance should not be ascribed to this by taking it out of the overall context of the original reply.
  19. mac

    mac senior member Staff Member

    I doubt that guides are confused - if they are then something's wrong! They are not, of course, omniscient. That's a situation which may be attributed to only certain entities of a very high order of spiritual understanding.

    i don't see life as an adventure so much as a journey of discovery. Solutions are what they turn out to be for individuals even if those solutions are not what we might have expected. Uncertainty is part of the journey and without it we'd be little more than marionettes.

    Like many issues the 'why' of our lives is likely to be somewhere in the spectrum ranging from totally pre-planned through to not-planned-at-all. Outcomes are down to events unfolding. Hence some outcomes are, for various reasons, likely to have been planned. Others' lives will be impacted by the planned events, or randomness, of other folk's lives.

    A simple re-write of a script doesn't really fit in with my understanding.
  20. ChuckAnderson

    ChuckAnderson Member

    Hi Everyone!

    I've been thinking that if a person was always happy, and there were no periods of melancholy, then how would a person ever know they were happy? They'd always be feeling the same.

  21. mac

    mac senior member Staff Member

    great point! Experiencing contrast might be the most significant of the 'lessons' we learn from life in-the-body.

    This physical world provides contrasts missing from the lives we led before and the ones we'll lead after we arrive here. Hot, cold, hungry, thirsty, bad weather, good weather, hate, illness, infirmity, being babies, getting old, growing up from children into older children (adults!) (There's also the very special situation of procreation, having babies and children.)

    I could go on but you get my point. All these experiences are found only in the physical dimension(s) and after we've experienced some or all of them we'll actually know for ourselves how those conditions feel, something we couldn't know without feeling, experiencing, them for ourselves. We don't, and won't, experience every possible contrast but some are likely to be common to all, many or most of us.
  22. vic smyth

    vic smyth New Member

    "Journey of discovery" is a great way to put it. May I plagiarize that from you? :)

    With Lovingkindness (metta),
  23. vic smyth

    vic smyth New Member

    They'd feel contentment.

    To answer mac's point about contrast, that is the entire problem with experiencing duality. We judge between good and not-good and desire the good. Eastern religions are based on this; eliminating discernment of duality and being even-minded, feeling contentment. When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge they knew the difference between good and evil, they discovered duality. If we could rid ourselves of duality, then we'd be One.

    Now as to how to successfully do that...I've been at it for thirty years and if I've made any progress it's just probably due more to getting older and more senile than anything else. :) It's easy to forgive someone when you have short-term memory loss.

    With Lovingkindness (metta),
  24. Carol and Mikey

    Carol and Mikey Golden Hearts

    We need to experience contrast to understand what true "Oneness" is according to Mikey. To truly understand the concept of true "Oneness", we need to experience what it isn't. That is one of the reasons why we are here. :) Just another opinion.
    Carol and Mikey "in Spirit"
  25. RobertaGrimes

    RobertaGrimes Administrator

    I have been following this thread with interest, but embarrassed about jumping in and saying that I don't get it. What is this thing that you call "melancholy," dear friends? How does it feel? How is it different from happiness? Unless I am missing something big, I do not believe that in 66 years of life I have ever encountered an emotion that I would identify as "melancholy." Briefly bummed about a fender-bender or the nuisance of having forgotten eggs at the food store? Sure. Grieving a bit for my mother? Of course. I have been annoyed, and I have been sad, but these were natural emotions springing from the events of the moment and they soon passed. I don't think that is what you mean by melancholy. I assume that melancholy would be more long-lasting, and it would be mostly independent of events? If that is what it is, then I never have had it.

    Does this mean that I have never been really happy?
  26. mac

    mac senior member Staff Member

    go ahead - enjoy! :D
  27. mac

    mac senior member Staff Member

    Only by experiencing individuation could we understand the notion of oneness. This is one more example of the contrasts possibly unique to this world...

    There are many more and even love is not an exception. The love we know here is so different than/from the love we used to know and which we'll again know after we've moved forward and left this dimension.
  28. mac

    mac senior member Staff Member

    Perhaps melancholy is - as you suggest - a more intense, event-independent version of sadness? And you do know what that is.
  29. RobertaGrimes

    RobertaGrimes Administrator

    Yes, dear Mac, I know what it is to be briefly sad about something. But I think of melancholy as an unfocused general mood of sadness, not as sadness about some event or situation. Am I wrong? It is that mood-based, unfocused sadness that I don't understand. Like depression. There are some depressives in my family - people that I really love - and I try to help, but I have to admit that I don't get it. I don't think that I ever have been depressed; I seem to have the opposite problem. Sometimes I am seized by an unfocused joy that can make me feel that if I don't hold tight to my own string I am going to float up into the sky. Living with depressives as I do, I have come to think that people have natural mood-settings, like an internal thermostat. So, mine is set high. That is how it is. I get it. But being occasionally seized by unfocused joy seems to me to be so much better than being at risk of being seized by unfocused sadness that I guess I am having trouble understanding why people don't work harder to reset their own thermostats. I am well aware that my even saying this is going to irritate the depressives among us, and I'm sorry. (It could be worse - imagine if you had me in your family ;-)!) But why not try it, just as an exercise?
  30. mac

    mac senior member Staff Member

    I agree, Roberta, with how you see matters. I am also thankful that I'm not afflicted by clinical depression and rarely feel generally depressed about much for very long. But I don't experience the highs you've described either so I guess I'm a very neutral individual, be that good or bad.....

    On the subject of emotional thermostats I take a different stance - well by now I'm sure you'd be expecting that! ;) As physical beings we're constrained in all we do by the shells in which we manifest. Almost everything - perhaps absolutely everything - is moderated by the efficiency of the systems running constantly in the background. Hormones govern so many physical and emotional states and it's arguable that what manifests as clinical depression is wholly a body-chemistry induced state of being. We can no more change that than we can change most other chemical controls in our bodies and attempts to do it with drugs can have disastrous results. Put simply it's not our spirit which is depressed but our physical shell in a chronic fault state but we're so tightly integrated, body-and-soul, that we can't see matters any differently - the whole human being is depressed (or elevated) and we have little or no control of the processes that create the condition(s).

    I've often retorted, when someone breezily says "Don't worry." to someone who gets worried that it's as meaningless as telling a non-worrier to worry! People don't choose to worry, or be depressed, in preference to not worrying or feeling great.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012

Share This Page