Today I came across what I thought was a really profound quote:
“Sadness gives depth. Happiness gives height. Sadness gives roots. Happiness gives branches. Happiness is like a tree going into the sky, and sadness is like the roots going down into the womb of the earth. Both are needed, and the higher a tree goes, the deeper it goes, simultaneously. The bigger the tree, the bigger will be its roots. In fact, it is always in proportion. That’s its balance.”
It got me thinking about how we view sadness (as something negative to be minimized) and happiness (as something positive to be encouraged). After all, how many times do you hear people telling you, “Don’t be sad”? Just like a wise friend once said to me, light cannot exist meaningfully without shadows, so perhaps happiness would lose its essence without sadness (or just as in the Disney movie Inside Out, the absence of (seemingly pointless) sadness causes the whole emotion ecosystem to go off kilter).
As I think back to moments when I have been in deep sorrow, it struck me how the emotion truly did feel like roots reaching deep into my core. And I recall how those sad moments grounded me, the accompanying pain making me feel very much alive.
And I recall that oftentimes in my happiest moments, a bittersweet flashback to those sad moments will occur, lending contrast and depth to the happy moment, helping me to appreciate and savour the intensity of the happiness in the wider context of my life journey as it blends with the now muted intensity of the sadness that preceded it.
So the next time someone tells me not to be sad, I am going to tell them, “Why not? For how can you truly know what is happiness unless you have experience sadness?”.