Learning to know the Difference

In a word for how last week felt – Contentment – really that is the only word that seems to come to mind. Last week just seemed to be okay; there really wasn’t anything too stressful or anything too sad, nor was there any great experiences or super happy moments. When I look back at it I just felt content and peaceful. I can say this because if I compare the last week with the weeks and even months leading up to last week I can see the difference. Those days prior to last week were filled with mix emotions. There was so much stress and even states of despair. I felt as if my world was falling down around me and all I wanted to do was give up. Those weeks and months were so hard for me that it is very easy to identify how nice and peaceful last week was. Sometimes we overlook that we had a great day or a nice experience yet the hard times and painful moments stand out prominently.

If we said “how was your day” to everyone we met it is likely that most of the responses would be either “it was okay” or “it was good” however, are these responses just to avoid talking about their day? I admit that I do that all the time, mainly because I don’t wish to discuss my problems with others, nor do I want to pass my crappy feelings to those who are content enough to ask others about their day. I have noticed quite often when one is asked about how they are doing they will tend to list off all of their aliments or describe some battle they had either during their normal routine. Sometimes it makes the person inquiring about the other wish they hadn’t asked to begin with. Not very often do you hear a response like “my day was great, I don’t know why but I felt that it was a very nice day.”

It was once said that if it we did not experience hardships and trials how would we know happiness and joy. This philosophy strikes up a chord really for me because if you think about it that is suggesting that we all must have hardships just to make us feel happy. In a way, at least it seems like that. But if we really think about this, if it were not for the bad times would the good times mean as much? Or is it the other way around, our hardships stand out because of the times of happiness and joy that we have had. In life, we start out learning all sorts of emotions and from there we know what happiness and sadness are. It is about our feelings and our emotions; something inside tells us that we don’t like feeling this way or that this feeling makes us happy. From birth, we enter this world and unfortunately the very first thing we do is cry; after that everyone tries everything to make us smile laugh and everything to keep us from crying.

We have learned the differences from these feelings and often we will try to stay close to the good and far from the bad, many times that is not possible. We surround ourselves with people who reinforce our good feelings and try to participate in the things we enjoy rather than the work we don’t. Some of us have an easier time doing this than others, some just seem to be happy all the time naturally. There is often a fine line between happy and sad and with that it is easy to fall deep into the other side of that line. There are many of us who have been in the darkness of sadness for so long they can no longer identify the contentment let alone the happiness or joy. They fall into a state of depression and despair and they often lose the motivation to find their way out of it.

This state of depression is where the needing to know hardship to understand happiness comes into play but must be understood. When a person is so depressed they cannot find the energy to find happiness they are misunderstanding the meaning of this principle. We also must have happiness in order to know our hardships. We cannot be in one state all the time or we will lose the ability to differentiate the two. Depression is much like the theory of a black hole; it pulls you deep within the darkness and swallows up all mass around you and the negative force is so strong you feel you cannot break away from its pull. It is so important to be able to see even the smallest forms of joy so that we can build our strength to identify the difference between joy and sorrow.

The trend that many people turn to when they are being pulled into the black hole of depression is to turn to substances that boost their ability to feel the same effects of joy. They laugh and smile and even seem to function as normal everyday people just happy about life, that is until the substance wears off and they need another hit. This fake joy this substance provides only numbs the reality and each time that numbness wears off it takes little more substance to build that fake joy back up. Each time it takes more and more until we lose out grasp with reality and our ability to determine what real joy is and therefore all we really know is sorrow.

We all must endure the hard times and learn from them for they will make us stronger and they will allow us to enjoy the good times in life. What I have a hard time recognizing is that we are here in this life surrounded by people with common goals and similar interest not to mention some type of spiritual connections. These people are our family and friends and they are supposed to be here with us as we are to be here with them. God knew we were going to need a support group to help us make it through these trials in life yet a lot of us, including me still feel as if we must suffer these hardships alone. It is so important to know the true meaning when it was said that without hardships we would not know joy but we must also know that we must be able to recognize both joy and hardship. The one other thing that we should practice is to stretch out our hands and learn to reach out to others. We must try to reach out to others when we see they are being pulled into sadness and we also need to learn to reach out when we are being pulled towards despair so that we can grab a hold of those hands trying to help us back on our feet.

I had a week full of content last week and I know that all my weeks will not be as such, however; I can look back and think about how peaceful that week was. With each hard week, I will become stronger in being able to deal with the hardships and trials and most importantly I will become more grateful for the weeks that offer peace and joy. Just maybe, maybe I will learn to reach out a little further especially when the darkness falls around me.

I must add that last week may have been a little more joy filled because someone within my support group tried to make me smile just a little every day, it is the little things that make such a difference.