I had never seen that word, “anhedonia”, before last week when I found it on the Op-Ed page of the NY TIMES. I should have been able to pull it apart to analyze the two Greek words that constituted it, but I was lazy at the moment and I relied on the columnist to do so. Of course, it is the negative for “one who searches for pleasure”. Therefore, it is the Gloomy Gus syndrome.
Now that it was pointed out, I see that it has become rampant. The newspapers are not filled with happy news, our television sets are of no help either, and looking at the people on the streets, certainly here in this large city, they are occupied with frowning as they type away on their hand-held devices. Have you noticed?
Well, I cannot change the news nor am I responsible for what is aired on TV, but I can do something about the public miasma of doom. I decided to smile as I go. Some of the results in a very limited area have been interesting.
On a rainy morning I hailed a cab and warmly thanked the driver who stopped for me. (I know, I was paying him, but I was so grateful to step out of the downpour.) He smiled in return and asked if I had had a good night’s sleep. That was a pleasant way to begin my day!
On a Sunday morning, I hopped into a cab at Port Authority and asked to go to Broadway and 30th Street. When the driver consulted his GPS I realized that this was no veteran. Instead of growing angry, as I was running late, I asked if he were new and learned that it was his first day on the job and I was his first customer! I offered to be his pilot, he gratefully accepted and we were off! At the end of the trip, I wished him a happy day and prayed that his next customer would be patient with him too.
This morning I cheerfully asked my driver where he was from. He rather hesitantly offered Egypt. I could see he wondered how I felt about immigrants. We had a warm and human conversation about the coming snow and how he attempted to explain frozen rain in that form to his family back home. We parted with mutual wishes for a good day.
I haven’t changed the world and my scope for good humor is limited, but I am chiseling away at the gloom, the anhedonia, which threatens to become the national mood. Would you like to join me in this effort at establishing little pockets of good will?