Tara Parker-Pope’s NY Times Well Blog talks about how faking happiness can bad for our health. This reminds me of an article I read many years ago by Paul Watzlawick and John Weakland from the Palo Alto research group. Some of their pioneering work involved applying the field of cybernetics, or “feedback loops” to the understanding of relationship patterns. In an article from their landmark book,”An Interactional View”, Dr. John Weakland noted that “The way to turn a child’s sadness into a depression is to tell him to go into his room and don’t come out until he has a smile of on his face”.
On some level we have adopted this posture as a culture. In our frenzy of anti-depressant use, we forgot how valuable our moods are. We forgot that it’s our depressions that tell us when our life is off-course. We forgot that our depressions function as a GPS when navigating life’s mysterious and sometimes hazardous terrain.
The author in this post, Anahad O’Connor, notes,
“Trying to suppress negative thoughts, it turns out, may have made those thoughts even more persistent.”
This, of course, is one of the genius aspects of a good meditation practice. Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn (known as “Thay”) talks about taking care of our painful emotions–anger, depression– “like a mother takes care of her crying baby.” She doesn’t fight with the baby, she holds the baby. She comforts the baby. Thay suggest we take care of our baby with tenderness: “Come here my little anger/depression: I will take good care of you.” No faking here. Just love. Self love.