A new study of the language habits related to depression reveals that happiness is a reward for the small-minded and unjustifiably assured.
A recent study made an investigation into possible indicators of depression by identifying the different language habits of the depressed in contrast to the mentally and emotionally well-adjusted. One of their main findings was that the latter are far more likely to speak confidently in certainties and absolutes.
“Absolutist words”—which convey absolute magnitudes or probabilities, such as “always”, “nothing” or “completely”—were found to be better markers for mental health forums than either pronouns or negative emotion words.
This phenomena seems related to studies which suggest that religious people are generally happier than others. True belief and blind faith can go a long way in glossing over the doubt and unease experienced by those unable or unwilling to live based upon such simplistic assumptions. But since Tibetan monks, who practice uncertainty daily, are probably actually happier than Southern Baptists, I wonder if this is not a sort of backwards view.
In a monastery everyone is a monk, so nobody has to deal with anybodies certainties or absolutism. In western culture those who attempt to break down dogmas and other compulsive norms are often restrained by those who cling to them. So perhaps it is not a lack of certainty or absolutes that is connected to depression, but is instead a reaction to the certainties and absolutes of others they are forced to endure day in and day out.
Think about that. Those who have taken the humble position that any absolute truths are likely unknowable are surrounded by those who are maddening sure of everything; as well an entire society based upon the decisions made by the absolutists. In this way one might get the idea that depression is a completely reasonable response to the conditions created by True Belief in their environment.
At the same time we might also question how genuine the happiness of absolutists is. Is it a deeply felt experience, or is it just so enmeshed in their scripts that they are able to convince observers and their selves that they are happy and well-adjusted based on the operating assumption that reports of experience are objectively equivalent to actual experiences?
The big question here is, given that this is a reliable theory of depression, how do we deal with it? Do we de-dogmatize the masses to fit the wisdom of the few, or do we attempt to indoctrinate the few and then alienate those unable to conform? The latter seems to be the usual outcome of modern civilization, so perhaps our best hope for assuring human happiness is to eradicate absolutism and certainty to the best of our ability. But where do we start?
I don’t know. *sigh*