Happiness and Sadness: The Unavoidable Ebb and Flow of Life

“In pursuit of meaning, the raindrops of sadness gave growth to the seed of potential”

I still remember waking up, heart racing fast, too fast. The anxiety—I despised it.  I despised the dreaded tests—people walking out as I am the last to finish. With every mention of group work and presentations my heart sinks deeper. People staring, my face purple like a melting admixture of paint, blue with unhappiness and red with embarrassment, surreal and no form. In people’s eyes it probably looks like a mistake.

I am too afraid to face my weakness.

That was me in college, intent on avoiding any negative experiences. I never thought college was for me, but after going through the experience, I realized that I had gained so much from it. Studying psychology made me more compassionate and learning about my weaknesses allowed me to actively work on them. In retrospect, life is much more about feeling good as there is so much more we can learn from our hardships. Therefore I’d like to share with you some thoughts I had over the years that may help you through hard times:

“Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones”-Viktor Frankl

Negative experiences, such as loss, betrayal, loneliness, fear and so on, are emotions we generally want to avoid, but they can be just as important as happiness. Viktor Frankl, a psychologist who experienced and survived life in a concentration camp, posits through his theory of logotherapy that people are motivated to search for meaning in life, and that even in suffering we may find it.

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.”- Thomas Merton

The human condition calls for a rhythmic balance of emotions in a yin and yang fashion; with a one-sided mentality we only expect the good. In suffering we can learn more about self-growth, how to cope, and develop unconditional relationship with others; you only truly know others and yourself until having gone through many different situations. While a constant repression of your negative feelings and persistently focusing only on the positive can be bad for your mental state. We must understand that sadness and suffering are unavoidable, and being prepared to face this and learn to deal with the problem in a way that we grow from it is what’s most important.

A Note to You

If you ever feel as if you are all alone and your life is on autopilot down the wrong path, you should never be ashamed because you are just human like every single one of us in this universe. These three advice may help you overcome your situation even if it’s just a little bit:

  1. Self Reflection: you can first try reflecting on your thoughts and understanding yourself – what you think, feel, and want.  Often times we don’t really know ourselves as much as we would like to think. Knowing yourself gives room for you to develop your weakness.
  2. Social Support: Try confiding  in a friend, family member, or find an anonymous outlet to express your thoughts where it is free of judgement because just having someone to talk to can help relieve sadness by dispersing some of the emotions and help you gain perspective on your situation.
  3. Find Meaning and Seek for Growth: Always find a positive in your situation or experience. If you are able to find meaning and beauty in adversities, you will gain the reward of learning more about life, others, and most importantly yourself.


Being able to accept life in all its forms, drawing meaning, and learning from it is really what life is about, and ultimately, the byproduct will be happiness. Remember that with each blemish that leaves an imprint in your memories and with each problem you face and win, you will become a wiser and stronger you and that is the you that you should strive to be.