People are told that depression is simply a consequence of a chemical imbalance that consumes a highly unfortunate group of people. Big pharma has a lot to gain by this theory, as worldwide prescriptions of antidepressants were estimated to be over three trillion in 2016. It’s something that is overwhelmingly impossible to determine unless we were to dissect the chemical structure of each person’s brain – not that we have such a technology available to us. Even if we did, it’s safe to say that that’s not a viable option any time in the near future. So, what should we turn to them for answers? What about the circumstance? What about upbringing? Is having a life devoid of meaning tantamount to depression? My answer is, of course, it is! I personally felt like an utterly useless human being for most of my life – that is until I started my fitness business a few years ago.
Doctors will often separate physical from mental health, although it’s beyond any doubt that the two are interconnected. They will throw medication at you – a band-aid like the treatment that often does more harm than good in the long run. It should go without saying that the root cause of circumstantial problems isn’t from a chemical deficiency. I often suffered from depression, but it wasn’t due to lack of serotonin, GABA, exercise, or whatever else, but rather from a lack of meaning. I came to the realization that the pursuit of meaning was more important than the pursuit of happiness. And consequently, the best form of sustained happiness is derived from the meaningful goals you pursue to make the world (and yourself) a better place.
First, I decided that I needed to have some goals. I was going to get fit! I started with a gym membership and I bought Arnold’s Modern Day Bodybuilding Guide. In my naivety, I thought I would magically become happier with a bit of daily exercise and the Terminator guiding me to kick some butt. Well, I didn’t, but it sparked the change that needed to happen in order of my pursuit of happiness.
The Pursuit of Meaning
As much as what’s wrong with the upcoming generations, we’ve never lived in a better time to pursue our passions – to create meaningful projects with little to no cost involved. It’s not like we have to invest our life savings into opening a Blockbuster Video chain. It won’t cost you a million dollars. It’s now done on a computer or with the click of a cell phone, often for free. I started an in-home Toronto personal training business. I found it was the best path for me to become an entrepreneur, do something I’m passionate about, and help others get healthier at the same time. A win-win for everyone and trust me when I say that not many people can say that about their careers.
Oddly enough, as meaningful as it has become to help others with their fitness goals, what really motivates me is helping to shape the young trainers I have employed with my business. We’re talking about young twenty-somethings that are just starting out, feel lost, and are desperate for some guidance in their careers. I always tell them not to chase after money but to let the money chase after you. To be more clear, follow your passions and do the best job you can, and you’ll reap the benefits in a variety of ways.
Don’t Fail Yourself
We like to think as humans that we are superior, hyper-intelligent beings. We are social animals and a big part of our socialization is copying each other – a monkey sees, monkey do instinctual behavior that is instilled in us from birth. We think that it’s ok to put on our suits and herd into our cubicles because that’s what everyone else is doing. Then we wonder why we aren’t happy. There must be something wrong with us. Find meaning – find purpose, we have never lived in a better age to pursue our passions as career choices. We all have limited time. Don’t fail yourself and the potential we all have within us.
Scott Everson is a fitness professional and owner of Busy Bee Fitness Experts located in Toronto, Canada. He is a contributor to several health and wellness publications throughout North America. You can reach out to him directly with your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.