The opposite of happiness is not sadness. It’s emptiness.

Over a recent weekend, I had an interesting mix of experiences, one sad and one happy. One was surrounding a loss, and the other a celebration. But I realize at the end of the weekend that the two experiences are related. I came to the surprising realization that loss, the feeling of emptiness, is the opposite of true happiness, and how that knowledge can help me improve my life.

I took part in a friend’s charity run for his brother who died of cancer. As I talked with his parents, I was struck by their feeling of absence for their son. I saw a family that lost a brother, a son, a lover. I then felt that emptiness in myself as well. I felt the absence of my uncle who I had lost to cancer years ago.

The next day, I was at a community festival. It was a celebration. Music was being created as food was cooked and drinks that had been fermented were poured. I met new people and the connection I already had with my friends, who were with me, grew. I was surrounded by creation. I was happy.

We are here to create and connect

Happiness and sadness are states of feeling. Sadness isn’t in any way less than happy. Their opposite is not feeling at all. We aren’t here to live in a state of nothingness, in apathy, observing life go by. We are here to create something and forge personal relationships. But the first step, before creation, is individual acceptance.  

Creation, taking risks, loss, making a stand, connecting with others, and doing something we value is what life’s all about. And these things require sadness and pain, in addition to happiness. The alternative is existing in a state of neutrality, a stagnation in which the only movement is towards death.

We were meant to live it to the fullest.

When are you your happiest? What are you doing?

2 thoughts on “The opposite of happiness is not sadness. It’s emptiness.

  1. That is the easiest question you ever asked. You nailed the answer. I am happiest when I am hanging out with family and friends, even when we aren’t doing anything out of the ordinary, sitting in the livingroom laughing, backyard cookout eating or walking around an event of some type. Just being together, even if I am napping a rainy afternoon away on the couch and my son is asleep on the other couch, the presence of a loved one is felt and comforting on spiritual levels I can’t explain.

  2. Yes, Cryssy. Life is about creation, whether it’s friendship or a home project. And these things require a self-empowerment that is more valuable than either of them, but it leads to a community that feeds back to us…a community that we need to be happy. All these things are necessary.

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