Happiness with a side of sadness

You may have heard Hawaii called the Rainbow State. It certainly lives up to its name. I’d say that I see rainbows like this at least once a week.

The other day there was a rainbow amidst a bunch of fluffy white clouds, and I wished that I could see that rainbow on a day of clear skies.

Then I realized that’s not how rainbows work. Rainbows are caused by light reflected and refracted through water droplets in the air. Without the moisture that makes the sky appear hazy rather than brightly, clear blue, there would be no rainbows. We need that haze of imperfection in order to get a rainbow at all.

Recently I got a new job. A great job. A job where I get to do THIS on a work day.

Saying my job is “pretty great” would be an understatement.

Getting out of an incredibly toxic environment and into a healthy, productive, exciting one has made me WILDLY happy — happy in a way I haven’t been in a long, long time. And that happiness has made me healthier in so many ways: my skin is better, my relationship with food is better, my anxiety has been significantly calmed, and I’m sleeping better. All things I hoped for and suspected would be the case.

One thing I didn’t expect was how much more deeply I’ve been able to feel the sufferings and joys of others. My empathy has been dialed up to 10. It’s like the happiness cleared away some of my obstructions towards others and I am more able to connect with what I think they are feeling. I think when I was so depressed and anxious that I put up emotional defenses against my empathy because feeling the suffering of others on top of my own suffering would have been too much. Feeling their happiness would serve as a reminder of how unhappy I was. Finding my own happiness, calm, and balance, by contrast, is attuning me more deeply, and more quickly, to feel the suffering and joy of those around me.

I also feel a profound sense of guilt for being so happy, but that’s a topic for another time (or for my therapist)…

It’s not a perfect analogy, but the rainbow I saw outside my window this morning reminded me that I love how rainbows and imperfect weather are inextricably linked, and how my happiness and depth of empathy are inextricably linked. Sometimes that means that my happiness comes with an extra side of suffering (life can be cruel), but I’m glad to be both happy and more connected to my fellow humans again.

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