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Americans are awash in depression, and there is a whole industry offering to help with their depression by selling them drugs, cars, wrist watches, cell phones, sugar products, and a myriad of other things unavailable to a billion people now living. And yet these Americans and others aspiring to live like them are not made happier by owning and using this stuff. The usual response is to go get more stuff, and there are whole industries of promoting them to do so, and saying they will be happier, healthier, wiser and wealthier – safer, more respected, and more loved, if only they accept the idea and pay a little money to get it. Oh, so little money for such a wonderful improvement to their life.

It has been well documented that beyond basic necessities having more money and the more stuff that accrues to having more money doesn’t improve one’s happiness. From NPR, “More than 1 in 5 women ages 40-59 are taking an antidepressant, the highest rate for any group.” Compared to any population of women who have ever lived, these should be the most happy; after all they have the most stuff. When these women are in that time of their life they still have their youthful health and an abundance of goodies, so why do they feel such a need for antidepressants? It’s because they are depressed.

Our whole society is suffering from setting impossible to attain goals, and when the goals are impossible they can never be satisfied. Depression comes to people who can’t cope with their problems, and taking drugs like alcohol and Prozac eases pain temporarily, but it interferes with solving the problems that cause pain, and so the problems get worse and the pain gets worse. It would appear that with problems that are clearly beyond our control, that we might do some small thing we believe will help, and then go about our business coping with problems we can solve. Doing something will ease our guilt of not doing anything, and then going about doing worthwhile activities will add more to the general welfare than feeling guilty and being depressed. Anxiety need not devolve into depression if we keep busy doing socially helpful things.

Set enjoyable goals, even high ones, for yourself, but ones that you can fulfill; and avoid impossible goals as you will only fail and then be depressed.