How do you feel?

This is a question I ask patients many times a day. It has become second nature to me over time. That is because I am a psychiatrist. I have been trained how to access how they are feeling and help them change it. I watch their faces closely as I ask these questions. “How is your mood? How have you been doing? How do you feel”?

However it is a question that many of us have a hard time answering. We are often not very consciously aware of our emotions. Sometimes just the act of hearing the question will bring a tear to the eye, a vacant look will pass over their face like a veil, they will nervously fidget with their hands or look away. Despite this being a simple question, almost a cultural cliché, in this context the rote response to a “how are you” will not do. Fine is not an acceptable answer. “Tell me more” I gently probe. They are forced to dig deeper, to self reflect and look inside themselves. How are they? How are they really? Rarely do I hear the response of happy or even content. Sad, unhappy, anxious, confused, distracted, the always popular stressed, are much more common responses.

Chances are most patients coming to see a psychiatrist are not happy, at least not at the beginning of the journey. However, looking out further to friends, family, co-workers, even sometimes myself, the answers are the same. We live in a culture that does not seem to promote feelings of happiness or contentment. It certainly is easy to be distracted and lose touch to that connection to your inner self. Losing meaningful connections with others also happens to many. The reasons are complex,  but they do not seem unique to the U.S. alone. It seems the entire world is struggling to find happiness.

In this blog we will explore more about the science and medicine behind happiness, mental wellness and inner peace and contentment. It may cause you moments of introspection, it may teach you new skills to regulate your mood and it may even bring a smile to your face. Join the Happiness M.D. on this journey.