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Happiness Is A Skill - Issue #44 - Why Research Won't Save You

Happiness Is A Skill - Issue #44 - Why Research Won't Save You
By Brooke Siem  • Issue #44 • View online
Longstanding New York Times Science reporter Benedict Carey, who wrote the hallmark 2018 article “Many people taking antidepressants discover they cannot quit,” recently left the Times. In his final piece, “Science plays the long game. But people have mental health issues now,” Carey states the obvious, yet often ignored: scientific research does nothing for individuals who are suffering right now.
Expecting science to save you from yourself is akin to expecting the military to deliver you a parachute after you’ve already jumped out of the plane. The process of research and review takes years to execute, and while clinical trials are held up on a pedestal, clinical trial results are only relevant under the circumstances in which the trial was executed.
(Case in point: the FDA and the National Institute of Health did not mandate the inclusion of women in clinical trials until 1993. Until then, the majority of clinical studies examined male subjects. But men and women are different. For one, they metabolize drugs differently. Extrapolating the results of a male-dominated clinical trial and applying it to women doesn’t necessarily deliver the same results, and yet women still take drugs based off of male-dominated data despite unknown risks.)
Mental health is messy. It is rooted in emotion, which means there’s no logic or sense to any of it. Research, on the other hand, is logical. It is designed to make order of the mess. It is natural for us to hold it in high regard in hopes that it will deliver us a pharmaceutical savior.
But, as Carey says, it’s just not happening.
Carey quotes Dr. Thomas Insel, former director of the National Institute of Health: “The scientific progress in our field was stunning, but while we studied the risk factors for suicide, the death rate had climbed 33 percent. While we identified the neuroanatomy of addiction, overdose deaths had increased by threefold. While we mapped the genes for schizophrenia, people with this disease were still chronically unemployed and dying 20 years early.”
All this to say, research ain’t doing diddly to solve the problems.
Cutting research funding isn’t the answer, of course. We need scientists to keep doing their thing, because over a long period of time, individual bits of research link together to help create a tapestry of our understanding of the world.
But on an individual or clinical level, relying on further research and funding is not the answer. Instead, all that energy needs to be turned inward. The answer is not out there, outside of you. It is of you, something that you need to learn to access within yourself in order to harness its healing powers. And that process is something you can do right now.
This process looks different for everyone. Maybe it starts with stopping yourself from complaining all over Facebook. Maybe it’s acknowledging that you do have a drinking problem and signing up for an AA meeting. Maybe its prioritizing the financial investment needed for a therapist, or even simply reading a self-help book.
That first step won’t be enough to save you, either. But just like bits of research weave together to create a tapestry of our world, whatever little steps you take right now will compound over time. Odds are, you won’t even notice a difference until you come to a point of crisis, somewhere down the road. Just at the point where you normally fall back into a destructive pattern of coping—abuse, obsession, overeating, self-harm—you will find yourself without the urge to harm or, even if the urge is there, you’ll find the strength to make a different choice.

Can you do me a favor?
In the world’s most amusing career twist, Nakano knives asked me to be one of 100 worldwide ambassadors in their fruit cutting competition. My entry, DogGoneBananas, is in the running to be considered for the grand prize, a post-pandemic trip to Japan!
My entry, DogGoneBananas for the Nakano fruit cutting competition.
My entry, DogGoneBananas for the Nakano fruit cutting competition.
The winner is chosen by the public, so I need your help! If you’d like to give me a bump, click here to vote. To give me 10 votes instead of 1, all you have to do is grab some fruit and participate yourself! There’s a public competition as well, with beautiful Nakano knives as prizes. My mom and 8 year old step-niece had a great time making Mr. and Mrs. Pineapple heads, so this doubles as a creative outlet for littles and grandlittles as well!
* * *
Science Plays the Long Game. But People Have Mental Health Issues Now. - The New York Times
Could Ancestral Memories of Experiences Really Be Inherited?
From America's Oldest Veteran, Here Are 9 Lessons On Living -
Happy Animal of the Week
Did you enjoy this issue?
Brooke Siem

After 15 years of depression and antidepressants, my mission is to help people find hope in the name of healing. HAPPINESS IS A SKILL a newsletter for people who are ready to dig deep and do the self-work required to create a beautiful life. You can learn more about my story at

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