Our upbringing almost guarantees that we are going to “hit the wall” at some point in our lives. Some will turn to religion - an extension of the “belief that we are special”. Some will forget what we were taught and just soldier on in the world as our experience defines it.
The majority have trouble with this situation. Some have more trouble than others. Some become “lost souls” wandering in “the wrong world”; their ‘beliefs’ telling them it is one kind of world - their experience telling them it is a different kind of world.
This, I think, is the root cause of “American Depression”. The ‘depression’ that sends millions of North Americans to the psychiatrists couch each year. The one that makes pharmaceutical companies rich.
When depression hit me, in my middle forties, I was extremely fortunate in that my life was exceptionally complex and my commitments demanded my attention. I COULD NOT take time to consider what was happening to me. And that was a bit of luck for me. I could not take time to “look inward” to determine the cause of “my problem”.
I was just too busy dealing with the “world as I found it” to get all caught up in introspection and “finding myself”. Fortunately I was an atheist and had no silly idea that I was the favoured of some god who had “great plans for me” or anything of that nature.
By the time my life had become less volatile, I had pretty much decided that I would, of necessity, forget the world that “should exist” and continue to go with the one that “did exist”. This was even more fortunate than one might realize when one understands that I am, by nature, a ‘thinker’ type person. I am given to introspection.
Had I gotten involved in deep self-examination at that time, it would have destroyed me. Staying involved in the “here and now” of a demanding business life and a crazy personal life, kept me away from that “centering” of myself in my attentions.
All of this meant that I was seldom “happy”. I was too busy to be happy. But as I aged I discovered that “happiness” is fluff. Lightweight. Frivolous. The real gem is contentment. This is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
I also discovered that contentment is only reached with a full acceptance of the world as it is, people as they are, and me as I am. That seems so simple, doesn’t it? Yet most people never manage it until very old, if at all. Early life conditioning stays with them. It prevents them from realizing the true state of existence and their place in it. Or it prevents them from accepting it when they do realize it.