“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all” – Oscar Wilde
Post-holiday depression is a privilege. How fortunate we even get a holiday. Whether thats a trip to a warmer climate, a break from work or simply an adventure. It’s much harder to remember that privilege when you return to normality.
I came back from a month off to a deep depression. I was tired, work was more demanding than I could remember, it was cold, wet, dark, I had no time to see my girlfriend and getting back to the gym was seemingly impossible. The city I loved looked different. I felt different. Everything frustrated me. As a result, I ended up in genuinely frustrating situations. I wanted to be back in Greece, waking up to a new adventure, smiling faces and wine for lunch. That was relaxing. This desire to be away was holding me back from enjoying anything I currently had.
This continued until I heard Marshall Goldsmith on The Knowledge Project. Goldsmith said the great western disease is defined by “when.” It will be all great when. It will all be great when I get to go on holiday again. But there is no when. Never place your value on the results of what you’re trying to achieve. Don’t become fixated on the outcomes of your goals. Goals are important but you cannot control the outcome, only the process. Love the process of what you’re doing.
He quotes businessman Safi Bahcall.
I previously thought happiness was a dependent variable, based on achievement. Then I realised happiness and achievement are independent variables. You can achieve a lot and be happy, you can achieve a lot and be miserable. You can achieve nothing and be happy, you can achieve nothing and be miserable.
Bahcalls’ hypothesis? Happiness is a choice.
In my frustrated state, this seemed overly simplistic but hard to argue with. I was frustrated, but why? It was cold and dark, I was exhausted, hadn’t the time to hang out with my girlfriend. Is it possible these situations could exist and I could not feel frustration? Sure. A burden began to lift. Slowly. Over the next few days when I felt the frustration rise, I made the conscious effort to laugh at my fascination with controlling my circumstances. There are only so many variables you can control right? Life gets easier when you remind yourself happiness is an independent variable.