The other night I felt overcome by sadness as I reflected upon all the suffering of this world.
In many ways, I have a perfect life. Nevertheless, a part of me will always be sad as long as others suffer.
Life is bittersweet. And that’s okay with me. As long as suffering persists, happiness without sadness seems insensitive.
I sat with the feelings of sadness, gazing at the dark night sky. I didn’t try to push them away. Quite the contrary, I felt empowered by them.
Usually, we want to move away from sadness as quickly as possible.
Often, we’re encouraged to divert ourselves from sad feelings by engaging in physical activity, imagining pleasant and relaxing experiences, or looking for humor in a situation that makes us sad. Some people, who are naturally empathetic, have decided to protect themselves from sadness and other challenging emotions by not watching the news. I can understand.
But I say, let your heart be broken into a million pieces. You will be all the better for it if you allow it to open your heart. Here’s why.
3 Ways Sadness Can Be A Gateway to Genuine Happiness
Sadness is not always as bad as it’s made out to be. In fact, sadness can be the start of your journey directly to the heart of true happiness. Here are 3 ways that sadness can help you discover a more lasting, genuine sense of happiness.
1. Let Sadness Crack Open Your Idea of Reality
There’s not a single person in this world that can escape from suffering. Suffering is the fundamental characteristic of the way we lead our lives—full of attachment and aversion. This is precisely what brings unhappiness our way.
I like this. I don’t like that. I want this. I don’t want that.
There may be transitory moments of happiness when things go our way, we have an enjoyable sensory experience, or acquire an entrancing new possession. But temporal happiness such as this does not last long. Before you know it, dissatisfaction arises, and you’re on to wanting the next thing, person, or experience.
All the tension of striving for what we want and rejecting everything else just brings more complications and more distress. We’re rarely satisfied for more than a few moments at a time.
How about trying this – when sadness pops up, instead of running away, let her wake you up. Sadness has the power to introduce a crack in our limited and limiting version of reality. Maybe life isn’t all about wanting, getting, accomplishing, and possessing. Maybe there is another way.
And even if you know this already, sadness can sing you an even deeper song.
A moment of sadness can be profound, indeed. You might see clearly for the very first time. Or you might get fantastically woken up once again. Either way, let sadness spark your life with new meaning and purpose.
2. Let Your Heart Break Into a Million Pieces
When sadness breaks open our heart, we have the opportunity to become fully human.
By having the courage to touch our own pain and suffering, we naturally feel empathy for the pain and suffering of others. Suddenly we see: your suffering and my suffering are the same. Suffering, as well as the wish to avoid it, are one common thread that unites all of humanity.
From recognizing this simple truth, one we tend to neglect in day-to-day life, a profound feeling of interconnectedness can arise and bring about an unspeakable joy. It can ignite the wish to bring happiness to others and to do all you can to eliminate their suffering too. Now, that is living for a much higher purpose, one that leads to a more sustaining joy.
3. Nothing Ever Stays the Same for Even a Moment
Sadness comes when things change – a relationship ends, someone dies, we’re fired from a job, illness descends, a friend is physically hurt, a disaster happens. Sadness introduces us to impermanence and so can help us learn to let go.
Change is the only constant in life. Until we learn to accept change gracefully, we’ll always suffer. There’s a blessing in embracing the beauty of impermanence. Through doing so, we can come to value every precious moment of this life and live in a far saner and more fulfilling way.
A Healthy Approach to Sadness
Since no one is immune to sadness, why not use it to spark more meaning and purpose in your life. That is what will bring you a more genuine and lasting happiness.
I’m not suggesting that anyone get stuck on sadness – that could be depression or unending grief. Repressed grief leads to contraction and despondency. Instead, the willingness to acknowledge, express, and resolve grief, over a natural course of time, leads to greater health and happiness.
At the same time, we don’t need to push sadness away as soon as it pays a visit. Sadness can be the doorway to profound understanding. I feel empowered by sadness because it helps me see what really matters in life: kindness, love, and compassion.
How do you look at sadness in your life? Has sadness every brought more meaning or happiness into your life?
P. S. If you are on a journey of self-discovery, you might also like: Self-Love: Why Should It Matter to You?
Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious! Don’t forget to sign up for my e-letter and get access to all the free self-development resources (e-books, mini-guides + worksheets) in the Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe – always. With love, Sandra
Emotional MasterySadnessSufferingTrue Happiness
He was everything I ever wanted in a man. If I were to conceptualise a list of ten desired qualities in a man, he would score eleven out of ten. He was my other half, this uncomprehendingly wonderful being that fulfilled my life, so much so that I sometimes doubted his existence and thought that I had contrived him in a dream. He inspired me, challenged me and loved me just as I was: quirks, flaws and all. He touched my soul so deeply that I was completely vulnerable to his grasp, which was always tender and caring. He taught me what it felt like to truly love someone down to your core; what it felt like to constantly live with a burning desire, so strong that it actually pains you, and he showed me the perpetually engulfing warmth of deep, flaming, impassioned, mad love. He dreamed up delightful visions of our future together – bright enough for both our imaginations.
I loved every element of his soul. What he deemed flawed, I saw as more reasons to love him: I loved his heartwarming stutter when he became too excited about a topic of conversation; that floppy wisp of hair that he could never seem to control; the way he overused the word perpetually when describing his passions; his shyness when wearing his glasses, letting my compliments bounce off him like a tennis ball to a solid wall; the sad smile he made that accompanied a vacant stare when remembering happy memories of a loved one lost; his confidence that was always accompanied by a tiny crevice of self-doubt, a nook that I constantly tried to fill; and his overwhelming passion for life and love: always optimistic, always grateful, always pure and true. Our conversations were energy-filled debates of love and adoration: bursting with excitement of sharing our knowledge, truths, love and joie de vivre; yearning to include each other in every capillary of our lives.
He was my perfect puzzle piece: an over-thinker, a relentless inspiration-seeker, forever a solitary explorer, believing that life is meant for loving, and happiness is meant for sharing. He loved and took note of life’s simple pleasures, like a steaming cup of tea, aged wine, the smell of old books, the beauty in the silliness of a fit of uncontrollable laughter, the underrated phenomena of a thunderstorm, the crinkles in my nose when I laugh and the unique story to the cracks and pops of a spinning vinyl. He was a down-to-earth man, taking a liking to the distinctive story behind every object, location and individual, equipped with the remarkable ability to connect with your soul; his presence an eternally rare gift. He encouraged my passions, loving the way I wrote words that I had never spoken, and my constant desire to make them bounce off the pages on which they were written. But he was also was my reality: pulling me back down to earth when I had floated too far into space.
“The timing was wrong.”
He knew me better than I knew myself; he guided me towards a more beautiful life and opened my eyes to a wonderful, dazzling world that he helped create for me. My heart was safely, snuggly wrapped in a blanket of his pulchritudinous love; and so I always carried him with me, wherever I went: in my sub-conscience, in my actions, in my thoughts, in my activities. It was as though we were one, and I was just one half of this amazingly surreal, perfect concept of ‘us’. With him by my side, I felt like I could conquer the world, reach all my goals and dream up inconceivable dreams; but with him by my side, I was just as content with dropping everything for a simple, happy life of togetherness.
I couldn’t love him enough. The timing was wrong.
I was in the winter of my life, stuck in an icicle of numbness: too afraid to completely give my heart, but wanting to with every fiber of my being. My life was a circulating frustration, filled with demons of the past, and I needed to find myself before he found me. I was hiding behind a mask of optimism, running away from the claws of my emotions. He came into my life at a very fragile time, and soon discovered that loving a conscious woman is hard work. I wanted simple; however, the new me and the life I was leading was far from simple. I was frustrated with him for the way he made me feel: filled with so much love, adoration and desire that he became a need – an unbeknown feeling to me; and I, like many other over-thinkers and women plagued by feminist ideals, was sadly too afraid to dive into the unknown, to listen to him beyond just hearing his spoken words, to mirror the support and respect that he gave me…
I was ill, lost in anger and trapped in my routine, too afraid to admit that what I wanted in life was beyond what I had. I should have realised that I was sick: I stopped writing, reading, watching films, enjoying music, exploring the world that was on my doorstep, and I had lost my hunger for the taste of new experiences – core elements of the woman that I am. Drowning in self-loathing, my full glass of frustration soon overflowed onto him, the one person that understood me and the only one I allowed close enough to my heart to be my comfort. I should have painfully pushed my pride aside, and accepted that my frustration was caused by my routine, my lifestyle, and my refusal to accept that what I thought I wanted out of life, and the pathway that I had taken, was incorrect.
Despite the fact that he was faced with the toughest time of his life, a time of loss, unwanted change and unimaginable sadness, he was still there for me; and I was undeserving. He would approach me with love and delight, and I would respond with a blank stare and silent tears creeping down my cheeks – tormented by my own frustrations that I simply couldn’t understand. I could not give him the love and support that he needed, and it lead to a pointless war within. I was not ready for his love, as much as I desperately thirsted to be ready for it.
He was my first love, and my first heartbreak.
Life without him brought me inconceivable pain: pain that turned out to be my greatest teacher. It was a pain that represented the few fighting rays of sunshine through the fog of my life; pain that set me on a path of self-discovery; pain that demanded me to keep learning; pain that taught me what it really means to feel; and pain that forced me to open my eyes that had been blinded by the illusion that the distance between us was merely physical and not emotional. Losing him, my entire world and the person I depended on for happiness, was a reality check of note: I was forced to avoid all distractions and take a cold, hard look at myself and finally be honest about my aspirations and how I wanted to reach them. I had to forget about everyone else’s opinions and uncover the truth about how I felt – something I had hidden to make life easier: a demon that I should have addressed before I met him. I had to start creating my own happiness; and wow, what a challenge that has been.
It’s hard to live with should haves and the mourning of unspoken words, unfulfilled moments and future memories left blank. I yearned for his forgiveness, knowing that it wasn’t him, but me. I am thankful for the fact that I was never granted the opportunity to ask for it, due to the high wall that he had built between us, separating the beginnings of his new life from the memory of us, because it lead me to the realisation that I first needed to forgive myself. The heartbreak was self-inflicted, and I will carry the weight of that with me for the rest of my life.
Life after him has been filled with self-discovery, enlightenment, change, a new lifestyle, new perspective, wisdom and a new-found confidence. I am finally in a place of contentment and decisiveness: knowing that where I am right now is where I am meant to be. I am now capable of love and support, and I have accepted and grown from the flaws of my failed relationship and its lessons. I am now myself: the woman I tried to hide, and the woman that he loved, hidden beneath the facade of what I was trying to be. The journey to where I am now has been incredibly tough, but I have somehow healed through rediscovering myself: through writing, listening, observing and living; not in numbness, but in fully immersing myself in life’s experiences. The realisation that guilt is a wasted emotion and finally having the courage to forgive myself took time, six months to be exact, but the freeing feelings of elation, relief and exuberance that followed are what have now come to define me as a woman.
Ironically, we are better fitting puzzle pieces now more than ever before, but the memory of the pain I caused him and the knowledge of its compounding nature will forever separate him from me.
It is always hard to choose a tense when talking, writing or thinking about him, because my feelings for him will eternally be unchanged. My respect for that man runs deeper than the darkest depths of the ocean. We met at the wrong time, and that’s okay. I have come to accept it, and hope that someday, maybe somehow, we’ll meet, enjoy a cup of tea together, reminisce and escape in one last serene moment of shared happiness. Sadly, I cannot tell my heart when to stop beating for the person who has long since stopped listening for its rhythms.
One thing is infinitely certain: he will forever be the one who woke me up, and for that, I will always love him.
Read this: To That Person I Fell In Love With When The Timing Was Just Not Right
Read this: I Could’ve Loved You, But You Wouldn’t Let Me
Read this: You Can’t Find Love Because You’re Looking In The Wrong Places