Shortcuts in Living

Shortcuts in Living

In the last forty years in every wealthy country on earth, there has been a drastic increase in depression. Depression is now 10 times greater than it was in 1960 and it strikes at much younger ages. While every objective indicator of well-being- purchasing power, amount of education, availability of music, and better nutrition has been increasing; every indicator of subjective well-being has been decreasing.

What is causing this? In southeast Pennsylvania the Old Order Amish have 1/10th the rate of depression as occurs in Philadelphia only forty miles away.

A culture that builds unwarranted self-esteem, embraces victimology, and promotes unrestrained individualism has contributed to the epidemic; but I believe the largest factor is what I call “Shortcuts in Living.”

Shortcuts in Living

Every wealthy nation creates more and more shortcuts to pleasure: television, drugs, alcohol, consumerism, spectator sports, and many more. What would happen if my entire life were made up of shortcuts? What would happen if I never received challenges that called upon my personal strengths and virtues?


Depression would happen. One of the major symptoms of depression is self-absorption; mostly living life for self alone.

Pleasure vs Gratification (self vs outside of self)

There is a principle referred to in Dr. Martin Seligman’s book “Authentic Happiness”; the difference between “pleasure” and “gratification.”

In summary, Pleasure is an immediate and momentary bodily delight (like chocolate) whereas Gratification is engaging, intellectual pursuits wherein we get long term enjoyment (like raising children, doing good for others, and hobbies). Following pleasure leads us in circles, always seeking more pleasure. Following gratification leads us to enrichment and well-being.

Pleasures (self):

Pleasures involve more of a passive enjoyment of the bodily senses.  Listening to birds.  Enjoying a good meal.  Appreciating music.  It can be more active:  bicycle riding, gardening, and hiking through a beautiful forest.  But it is best done slowly, savoring, and stretching to maximize the pleasure.

Gratifications (outside of self):

A gratification is something you enjoy doing, but it challenges you.  You get totally engaged in the activity.  You have to use your physical, spiritual, and or intellectual “muscles” to do the activity with excellence.  It leaves you feeling very satisfied, competent, and accomplished but you might not feel any emotion while it is going on because you are so “in the zone.”


Deliberate Choice (done consciously and intentionally)

Every moment you choose what you see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. You choose how to move your body. You also get to choose value to what is happening to create an experience.

Do you do it consciously and intentionally? If you do not make a deliberate choice to control the input, you will go into automatic mode and accept input from outside as valid. Then Religions, Political Parties, TV advertisements, and etc. get to program subconscious intention; they create your beliefs for you.

Deliberate Belief (done consciously and intentionally)

Deliberate Belief is programmed subconscious intentions that are built by your deliberate choices.


Authenticity is a collection of deliberate choices that you have made that honor who you are.


Hint: People looking for shortcuts are probably trying to avoid personal responsibility in living.