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What's Going on With David?

If you've seen me in the past week, you could probably tell that something was off. I'm not normally the most jubilant person in the world, but I like to laugh and smile as much as anyone else does. Additionally, I love to see others smile and I believe spreading joy is one of the most fulfilling things we humans can do. This last week I haven't laughed. I haven't smiled. And I certainly haven't made anyone else laugh or smile. My world has been colored gray, and I've just gone through the motions. So what's going on?

On and off for most of my life, I've struggled with depression. It's a hard thing to admit. And up until recently, I had never used the word depressed to describe myself or the way I've felt. Actually using the word is pretty scary but also feels relieving.

My depression is episodic. Meaning it occurs for short periods of time. Usually, a few days or a few weeks in length and then I return to normal. The time in between episodes is usually months. Overall I spend more time feeling good than depressed. This is something I've been tracking with the happiness tracker here on my blog. It's easy to see an increase in my happiness over the last year.

If I've blown you off in the past week, or just seemed cold and uninterested. Please reach out again. Thank you for bearing with me during the hard times. I really do look forward to the good times, which I've learned are never as far away as they feel.

When I am depressed I am locked in my own world. Prevented from having the empathy needed to see into the lives of those around me. This is truly the most difficult part of depression and can make me feel very alone. That wasn't the case this time. This week I was pulled out of the rabbit hole really quickly by a couple amazing people. To those who have given their time to listen to and mentor me, your investment is treasured. And your belief in me has changed my perception of myself.

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If you are struggling with depression and keep it to yourself, consider sharing with friends and family what you are going through. There should not be any shame associated with your mental health and it will make recovery many times easier. If you don't know where to start, talk to me. I'll listen.

There's More to Life Than Happiness

"It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness."

"To the European," Frankl wrote, "it is a characteristic of the American culture that, again and again, one is commanded and ordered to 'be happy.' But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to 'be happy.'"

"Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desire are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided,"

"Nearly a quarter of Americans do not have a strong sense of what makes their lives meaningful."

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/01/theres-more-to-life-than-being-happy/266805/

These are quotes from Viktor E. Frankl a holocaust survivor who wrote Man's Search for Meaning. I'm now more interested in reading his book and have moved it up on my to-read list.

I'm also now wondering if I should change my daily question from "How happy were you today?" to "How meaningful was your day?"

What is Measured and Watched

Improves.

I first read this quote a few years back and it is something that I think about regularly.

There is, however, an important caveat. Deciding on what is measured and watched is just as important. Tracking the wrong metric and optimizing for the success of that metric can be catastrophic.

A big part of starting blogging is that it forces me to formalize the things that I am thinking about. Lately, I have been thinking about tracking different personal metrics over a long period of time. The first one I want to track is my happiness.

The happiness tracker is a simple piece of software that I wrote in about an hour this evening. All it does is remind me at the end of each day to answer the question "How happy were you today? (1-10)". Happiness, I decided, is an excellent metric to optimize for.

My answer to that daily question lives here: davidkircos.com/happiness

Eventually, I hope to show the data in a clearer format and potentially ask other questions to myself every day. Or even use this same mechanism to help stay on track for yearly goals

For now, I am just going to track daily happiness. Today was a great day, I spent most of the day relaxing with some close friends I have known for over 5 years. 8/10