There is Beauty in Sadness.

IMG_20150905_184114Life is made up of dualities: Good and bad. Love and hate. Happiness and sadness…

You can’t have one without the other, because they both help to give each other balance and meaning. The secret is in how we play with these polarities, learning to flow freely between them, not getting too caught up in one or the other, knowing that everything is relative and temporary. Life is a constant dance.

And sometimes both dualities can exist simultaneously, like how something so beautiful can make us cry or when we notice the beauty in pain and sadness. Because there is something beautiful about raw emotions and the expression of our fragile humanity in all of its complicated messiness. I believe it’s in these moments of pure authenticity when we truly connect with people, relating to each other more deeply through our shared experiences of life. There is no way to avoid sadness, and our happiness will always be fleeting. Neither are good nor bad, just temporary feelings that are part of being human.

And I’ve realized recently that this is the place where most of my writing and music seems to stem from. I often think that a lot of my music is sad or depressing, not wanting to play it and bring people down (and it’s possible to be interpreted that way), but I still manage to weave in some hope and beauty with the message. It’s about taking these seemingly “bad” or “negative” emotions, and turning them into something beautiful and relatable in order to connect with others. We’re never alone and these feelings aren’t permanent, despite how we may feel.

Be Soft - VonnegutOur society tends to overemphasize happiness, like it’s supposed to be our default setting. It’s literally impossible to be happy all of the time, and pretending that we are is doing ourselves a real disservice. There’s a reason why we have such a wide range of emotion, because they’re all valid and need to be expressed. There is a lot to learn from these emotions, especially the more “negative” ones, because they often make us turn inward to become more connected to ourselves, which can then show us where we need to make changes and evolve. Essentially our emotions are information that we can use to understand ourselves more deeply and grow into better people and oddly enough, painful events are usually the most transformative.

Of course, in an ideal world we’ll also be able to express these feelings in a more healthy and productive way, taking ownership of our own emotions and not projecting them onto others, but ultimately they just need to flow. Emotions are energy. E-motion = energy in motion. So the more you can find an outlet for expressing or releasing these feelings, simply allowing them to pass through you rather than holding on to them, the better off you will be. Consequently, the more you’re able to express your own emotions, the more that will allow others to feel safer to express theirs. Though to do so, we must also learn to withhold judgment and criticism, simply allowing others to express what they’re experiencing, even if we don’t understand or view it the same way. This is part of the idea behind the act of ‘holding space’ for someone.

I think the trick is to just become more curious about why we all feel the way we feel, looking not through the lens of judgment or criticism, but with gentle understanding. “Why am I feeling this way? What is it in me that’s causing this reaction?” I believe the ability to do this mostly comes down to the practice of self-love. If we learn to love ourselves (the good and bad, light and dark), then that self-love will radiate outwards, connecting us more genuinely into the world. We judge others because we judge ourselves. We hate others because we hate ourselves. So the deeper we can go into our own inner world, taking responsibility for how we feel and react, the more compassion and love we can extend to others, in spite of all of our flawed (but beautiful) humanity.

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