Among other things, neuroplasticity means that emotions such as happiness and compassion can be cultivated in much the same way that a person can learn through repetition to play golf and basketball or master a musical instrument, and that such practice changes the activity and physical aspects of specific brain areas.” ― Andrew Weil
Over the last twenty years it has become clear that the condition we call depression does not have one single cause or presentation. The accumulation of evidence shows that some types of depression are either brought about, or sustained by the way we think and interact with our world. Recent research suggests that an inflammatory response, brought about by our modern lifestyle, may also contribute to the development and persistence of such states.
The evidence also shows that our genetic makeup contributes to our risk of developing a depressive disorder. However, the presence of this genetic influence does not mean that depression is a purely genetic disorder.
I’m sure many of us care about how we will look back on our lives on our deathbed, but the value of our lives comes from the experiences of pleasure and purpose over our lifetimes and not from a judgement we might make at an arbitrarily chosen moment in time.
Most of us want to avoid depression and to be happy. Happiness is something that we pursue with varying degrees of intensity. There are even greater variations in the success that we have in pursuing this Holy Grail of the emotional world. Much of the time we do not even seem to be aware of what we mean by happiness, and seem to have even less idea of how we might possess it. Continue reading →