Can Sadness Actually Make Us Happier?

Happy_Sad_copyHow Periods of Unhappiness Can Actually Make You Happier…

I know this seems odd, but it’s actually true when you consider the following premise: Feeling unhappy from time to time helps us truly sense and appreciate the opposite — when we feel happy.   It’s the contrast that makes the difference. If we only felt one emotion (whatever it is) without any contrast or change in emotion, that emotion would be meaningless and mundane. In this example, if we never knew the feeling of being unhappy, how would we truly know what happiness is, and in the same sense, how would we truly appreciate being happy if being happy was all we felt? (The same applies with many other contrasting feelings or experiences we have in our lives.)

So, the point of this blog is to remind you that if you want to be Smarter-Sooner, recognizes this concept because it will help you more easily cruise through periods of unhappiness (or even feeling neutral). Personally, I find it’s easier to handle feeling ‘less happiness’ knowing that it will only make the next period of happiness that much sweeter.

Another way to think about this…

If we only stayed in 5-star luxury hotels and never stayed in cheap motels, how would be truly appreciate the 5-star luxury hotels? It would be difficult because without relativity or contrast, it’s hard to know how good or bad something truly is. Staying at the luxury hotel would just be a place to sleep and our appreciation of it would likely be limited. On the other hand, if we stayed at basic motels fairly often and, from time to time, stayed at the Ritz Carlton (or another luxury hotel), we would be extremely aware of how much better the 5-star Ritz experience is as compared to the motels. After staying at a basic motel, we would notice all the details, big and small, about the luxury hotel because they are so different from our previous stay. And we would appreciate being at Ritz so much more BECAUSE of our experience staying at cheap motel previously. Without the motel experience, the Ritz wouldn’t feel the same. The same applies with happiness, unhappiness or just feeling neutral. We need one to truly appreciate and distinguish the other(s).

The reason I’m writing about this is because knowing this concept is helpful when trying to cope with or manage ‘unhappy’, ‘blah’ or similar feelings or periods in our lives that we view less desirable. When you realize that, in order to truly feel and appreciate happy / positive / uplifting periods in our lives, it’s important that we sometimes feel sadness/ unhappiness. And when you have a feeling of sadness or being down, know that your sense and awareness of this emotion is the thing that will make you much more acutely appreciative of happy times in your life. It’s all about a balance… we can’t only experience one feeling or emotion. We’re human and fluctuating emotions is part of living. So, embrace the feeling of being unhappy from time to time and know that it will only make the feeling of happiness that much sweeter (the same way staying at a basic motel affects how your luxury experiences).

As humans, we are going to feel lots of emotions at lots of different times.   Having an appreciation for all of them is important. We can’t be happy all the time just like most normal people can’t stay in a luxury 5-star hotel all of the time. Accept the range of emotions that we feel at different times, know that they will cycle through and know that they influence our experience with other emotions. After all, if we didn’t have different emotions (good and bad), life would be much less interesting.

When was the last time you noticed the importance of this contrast? Any thoughts?

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