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Be Happy Now
We received some promising news from French neuroscientists recently that might help people who suffer from depression. By shooting a simple beam of light into the brain cells of mice, researchers were able to activate the happy memories stored there — and thereby alleviate depression in their subject animals.

We all know that revisiting pleasant experiences can help make us feel better. The tricky part, if you are depressed, is getting your mind to do that. If you are lost in that dark mental state and looking to find your happy place, you will likely discover that you can’t get there from here.

That’s why this story is good news. If scientists can isolate, and then activate pleasant memories in rats, they can probably do it in humans. Can a “happy button” be far behind? Feeling bad? Just press your happy button and the darkness begins to recede. Suddenly, all the possibilities of a normal life are within reach.

Everyone seems confident that Silicon Valley is up to this job, and who can blame us? It seems that nothing is beyond their wizardry these days. And we can all agree, I think, that such a device would be a truly wonderful thing for the many people who live under the crushing weight of clinical depression.

I hope that you will forgive me, however, if I see a down side to this hopeful news. If people who live with depression have access to a happy button (and I don’t begrudge them that), then wouldn’t everyone want one, too? You know, just to get you through the day? If you are troubled by our current brave new world, in which everyone is staring slack-faced into his phone — a world where we are all lost in our devices and rarely interact face to face, then imagine this: soon, we might all be sitting around pressing our happy buttons every waking moment, not speaking, not working, not living at all in any real sense.

Since we would be so absorbed by what was happening in our happy places, we would not have time to acquire new happy memories. Instead, we would be plugged into an endless tape loop, reliving the same happy moments over and over.

Working would be out of the question. Too much of a bummer. Eventually, civilization would grind to a halt. Everyone would simply be too busy in his happy place to keep the whole thing going. At some point, the electrical grid would break down, though, and our happy buttons would cease to operate. We’d probably rebuild the system then, or at least some of it…just enough to keep our happy buttons fully push-able. Civilization would be gradually reconfigured to become a society centered on the upkeep of happy buttons.

I suppose this might be a good thing for the environment. We’re moving forward too fast as it is, and our rate of acceleration seems to be reflected in the deteriorating health of the planet. A dead stop in human activity would stop that slide. The world would be saved, but the human race would probably just wither and die.

It’s not a pretty picture, is it? In fact, it’s kind of depressing. If I only had a happy button…
Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon