We are the cause of our own unhappiness

In her book on acedia, Norris explores it from all sides. Though she plenty of credit to modern approaches to depression, (such as treating it with psychotropic drugs), one the purposes of the book is to bring sin back into the discussion. Whodathunk? It’s been lurking all along.

I can readily accept what Thomas Merton said to a group of monastic novices, in relating John Cassian’s teachings to their lives as contemporary monks. While we are tempted to “think sadness is a mood, an emotion,” he told them, in truth it is “a passion which easily leads to sin.” Merton’s admonition that “the causes of our sadness are not to be sought…in other people, but in ourselves” is an essential for surviving in the rock tumbler of relationship, whether one is within a place of business, a monastery, or a marriage. “It takes real courage,” Merton insists, “to recognize that we ourselves are the cause of our own unhappiness.” The trick is to maintain a nuanced view as we attempt to discern what trouble we have caused and are responsible for, and what is truly beyond our control.

-Kathleen Norris, Acedia & Me, p.273