Being Happy Is Hard Work

I’ve always had a tendency to focus on the negative — I’m trying to change that

Dan Moore
Human Parts
Published in
7 min readAug 9, 2019

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Photo: Rika Hayashi/Getty Images

LLike many people, I struggle semiregularly with depression — or, as David Foster Wallace so fittingly called it, The Bad Thing. It doesn’t define me, but it does flare up from time to time, a swamp creature rearing out of my mind’s chemical pulp. Recently, amid a surge of badness so forceful it took me by surprise, I found myself wondering how it is that people like me — people who are healthy, loved, so privileged as to be blessed — can feel so sad? So beholden to The Bad Thing? On the surface, it doesn’t make sense.

It’s also worrisome. Aristotle famously posited that happiness — more specifically his eudaemonistic conception, wherein being happy means “to flourish” — is the highest aim of moral thought, a moral goal of the game of life. If this is true, it would seem that I (along with many other people) am losing the game.

How can this be?

In my case, I’ve come to believe it has something to do with my innate propensity for lending negative thoughts more mental space than positive ones. I struggle to recognize and appreciate the beautiful, precious stuff while it’s happening, but I’m hyperaware when things go wrong.

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Dan Moore
Human Parts

Writer | The Ringer, SF Chronicle, Human Parts, Forge, Oaklandside | Editor-in-Chief: PS I Love You. Twitter @dmowriter. Web https://www.danmoorewriter.com/