In today’s culture there is a certain expectation for happiness. Why shouldn’t there be? It’s what we should all strive for, right? We see smiling faces in advertisements, successful people on social media, happy TV shows, and movie stars. The media is full of seemingly perfect lives. So much so, that we can begin to question ourselves when we are feeling anything less than perfectly happy. The reality is life is filled with ups and downs, and everyone experiences them. In order to fully understand and appreciate the positives in life, they must be contrasted with negative experiences.
Imagine a black and white photograph of a mountain range. The sky is dotted with rows of puffy white clouds, the mountains are jagged, dark, and mighty, the grass is soft and glittery in the light, and the lake shines bright. Now imagine turning down the contrast on this image. As the lights merge with the darks, the sharpness and definition is lost. Lower the contrast even more, and you end up with a grey and boring picture. Even if you were to then turn up the brightness, the image would still look flat.
The same goes for life. The diversity created by the darks and lights of life is what make it interesting. Negative experiences give context for good ones, while making life richer and more interesting.
Emotional low points are difficult, but developing a mindful awareness of that discomfort will lead to much greater emotional highs. To get through difficult times, try taking a step back. Rather than fighting the feelings or trying to numb them, try accepting them as they are. Anger, sadness, and stress are just emotions. These will come and go just like the weather. Sit with the feeling and try to understand where its coming from.
Negative emotions exist to notify us when something needs to be fixed. By accepting them, you putting yourself in a wiser place where calm, rational action can begin. The next step is to cultivate the courage to address those problems.
When you take action in response to negativity rather than dwelling in it, you are taking control of your life. Seeing the dark allows you to work towards joy, love, gratitude, and abundance with clarity and direction. So next time you’re not feeling at your best, try to remember that it’s temporary. Be kind to yourself and listen to your needs in those low times, so that when happiness returns, you can embrace it in equal or greater measure.