Chasing happiness is overrated. We tend to put so much of our focus on being happy, or trying to be happy. When moments of grief, sadness and suffering hit our life, our tendency is to usually avoid it, numb it, distract ourselves or push it away. I’ve recently become more aware the strength in sadness when you accept and transform it.
I have a friend who is happy and optimistic most of the time. I was confused to learn that one of his desires was to re-connect with his sadness. At the time I thought:
‘Who would consciously want to learn how to be sad?? What is wrong with you!’
My reaction was based on believing being happy was ‘positive’ and sad was ‘negative’. The reality is they both have their value, and are essential for growth.
I now realise what a blessing being able to connect with your sadness is – and how important it is that we have access to our full range of emotions.
I like this analogy:
Happiness is like a wave – energetic, chaotic, loud and flowing.
Sadness is like the ocean – mysterious, deep, still and silent.
It is only in our moments of sadness do we take the time to be still, reflect and look deeper into ourselves.
Happiness is a time of sharing, sadness is a time of solitude.
We start to ask questions about ourselves:
Why do I suffer? Who am I? What is the purpose of my life?
It allows us to learn from our mistakes and grow in our wisdom.
It allows us to question life, and re-define what we want and who we want to be.
It makes us more tolerant, patient, understanding, compassionate and empathetic to the pain of others.
Sadness makes us slow down, reflect and look deep into our wounds to find meaning.
When we embrace the beauty of our sadness, we look deep inside for a new way of being. In that process, we find new layers of ourselves and develop strength to push forward.
When happiness inevitably comes around, sadness helps you appreciate joy more fully, deeply with greater awareness. When you’re chasing happiness and numbing your sadness, you can never appreciate what true happiness is.
Happiness and sadness come in cycles and always pass. Together, they allow you to have a full human experience.
Looking back, I realise that my saddest moments have also been my most transformative. It has made me stronger, resilient and more focused on what I want in life. It has also made me more patient and sensitive to the underlying pain of others.
The best advice I can offer is to accept sadness when it arrives – don’t try to fight or resist it.
Observe it and allow it to help you reflect, meditate and contemplate. Journal, take space and figure out what is the root of your pain. The paradox is when you allow it, it transforms faster than when you push it away.
Treat it as a gift and it becomes a gift to give you new found strength.