There was a time when I thought that depression and anxiety were the only self-sustaining emotional cycles the mind has. Happiness was something to strive for, a fleeting reward. It wasn’t until later that I found a similar positive feedback loop: appreciation or kindness. When you tell someone how much you appreciate them you will, inevitably, feel good about it. There’s some research to suggest that showing gratitude does have a positive effect on mood (and I can dig up some of those articles and cite them if anyone is interested). Where the feedback loop begins is that when you’re happy you’re more likely to show appreciation and kindness to others.
After realizing that I had been failing to express my appreciation for others I went on a long spree of doing so. I connected with friends, colleagues, instructors, and family members. With each person I was open and honest about why I appreciated them. I brought up past memories, good traits, and the feelings that came with them. It was one of the most natural and easy things I’ve have done which left me a tad puzzled as to why I hadn’t been doing it before. More than that, why weren’t more people doing it?
There are a lot of explanations for why we don’t. Most prominent among them is that, at least in the US, we tend to live in a rather cynical world. Expressing emotions is seen as dangerous and perhaps even maladaptive. Furthermore, happiness is not something that should be our natural state, or so society would have us believe. We need to buy it. We give our time, our possessions, and the very lifeblood in our veins. The problem with that is that the cost-to-benefit ratio is rather large which leaves us drained if we try to go about obtaining our happiness there.
So, thank you dear reader. I don’t know how many of you there are nor do I hear from you very often (at this point) but I sincerely appreciate that you’ve taken the time to read my blog. I may write the blog for myself and my own reasons but I still enjoy having it read. Once written that is the purpose of most any written work, after all.
I would also like to thank the wonderful folks over at the Free Software Foundation. The meetings I’ve had with them at LibrePlanet and beyond have been phenomenal and the work they support is important and helpful beyond measure.
I would also like to thank the following software projects who help me day-to-day with the software I use (check them out, they’re awesome!):
- The Linux Kernel (OS Kernel)
- GNU (System Tools & More)
- Gnome (Desktop Environment)
- Exaile (Media Player)
- Pidgin (Instant Messaging)
- FocusWriter (Awesome distraction-free writing tool)
- Mozilla (Firefox and Thunderbird)
- Debian (GNU/Linux OS Distribution)
- KeePassX (Password Management)
- LibreOffice (Office Suite)