What the HAYnes? On choosing happiness and Bordeaux cherry chocolate ice cream

Antidote to Seasonal Affective Disorder
SAD Therapy (intentional spelling) | Image by Brett Barrett, St. George News

HUMOR – I have a friend who has a problem. Around this time every year she manifests the same symptoms: avoidance of social contact, lethargy, the desire to sleep until Easter, cravings for sugary or starchy foods such as Cheetos dipped in Blue Bunny Bordeaux Cherry Chocolate ice cream, as well as feelings of depression, irritability, and anxiety. She Googled her symptoms and according to WebMD she is experiencing something called Seasonal Affective Disorder, a mood disorder similar to depression which is brought on by variations in season or lack of daylight.

From there she began searching her other symptoms on WebMD and discovered that she might also be suffering from fibromyalgia, eczema, and lactose intolerance, as well as an aversion to pop stars such as Miley Cyrus. After that she spent two hours pinning dessert recipes and funny quotes on Pinterest before realizing that she needed to get cracking on writing her column.

I do not think that “my friend” is suffering from full-blown SAD. You know how WebMD tends to blow things out of proportion – you have symptoms of a headache and WebMD tells you that you have a brain tumor. I think what I have, I mean what my friend has, is an ordinary case of the post-holiday, pre-summer bummers.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian palliative nurse who for several years cared for patients in the last weeks of their lives. She has compiled a list of the regrets of her dying patients and among the most common regrets was that people wished they had allowed themselves to be happier.

Can this be right? Is happiness a choice?

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Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder
S.A.D. Therapy (intentional misspellings) | Image by Brett Barrett, St. George News

All of these years I have labored under the delusion that happiness is the result of moving to Hawaii and lazing on the beach. Or finishing raising my children so that I can finally have some peace and quiet. Or losing 10 pounds. Or buying that thing on that commercial that the advertisers promise will make my life complete – you know, the single-serving handheld blender. Or receiving an enormous financial inheritance upon the death of a distant relative and using the money to buy a mansion with a bookcase that spins around into a secret room.

Can I be happy even though circumstances may not be ideal? Can I CHOOSE to be happy, despite the short winter days, 38 degree weather, and this chest congestion that “just won’t go away?”

“To get up each morning with the resolve to be happy,” Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “ … is to set our own conditions to the events of each day. To do this is to condition circumstances instead of being conditioned by them.”

After literally tens of minutes of deep thought, this is my conclusion: Happiness is like Bordeaux cherry chocolate ice cream. You can buy half a gallon of ice cream and enjoy it in one sitting, or you can learn how to make your own ice cream and enjoy it endlessly – except that it is much too cold outside to enjoy ice cream.

I suppose it is not a perfect simile.


Elise Haynes chronicles family life in her blog Haynes Family Yard Sale. Any opinions stated in this column are her own and not necessarily those of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.


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