Happiness vs. Sadness
You’re sitting at your desk at work when you get a call from your boss. He wants to see you in his office right away. Immediately, you begin to feel anxious, questioning whether you’ve done something inadequately, or if he was pleased about a report you recently emailed him. You enter the office, exchange pleasantries, and sit down directly across from him. You take a deep breath as you realize that this man has the power to make your life simpler, and also has the power to dismantle everything you’ve built on to maintain your position with the company. This is the exact moment where you either discover happiness through your boss’ words, or you’ll soon experience anger or dismay. Everyone encounters unexpected emotions. Happiness or sadness can arise in an instant. It may also develop over a period of time, without us even noticing the arrival. Some people believe that happiness and sadness are vastly different in every way; however, they are ironically similar in a few aspects, such as physically, mentally and emotionally.
When people experience happiness or sadness, the physical aspects of the two are most easily recognizable. Both can result in crying or sobbing, which often leads to a runny nose, and both can overwhelm one and leave one speechless. Both are capable of elevating your blood pressure, respiratory rate, heart rate, and increasing hormone production and release. There are many differences between the two as well. Physically, happiness is generally recognized with a smile, boost of energy, upbeat attitude and can often be classified as ‘contagious’. One can easily depict which people around you are happy or motivated by observing their interactions with others as well. During points of happiness, one’s body increases production and release of oxytocin, a hormone which is also known as the ‘cuddle hormone’. The increased production and release, results in a general heightening of one’s mood. The physical symptoms of sadness are most recognized with a frown, loss of appetite, and loss of energy. When saddened, one’s body responds by increasing production and release of cortisol, also known as the ‘stress hormone’, which contributes to the lowering of one’s mood. Someone experiencing sadness is likely to be less talkative, less open to new ideas and may have an overall lethargic pace.
Next, happiness and sadness produce very different mental outcomes; however, they have at least one thing in common. Both happiness and sadness have the ability to severely impact one’s outlook on life. Happiness provides a sense of security by promoting confidence, optimism, and reassurance towards the future. It motivates one to stick with what they’re doing, and even strive to excel. It’s like reaching a checkpoint in life, where one finally comes to the platform that they thought would be unattainable and it’s addicting, in a sense. It becomes evident that happiness is plausible and it gives the mental strength needed to succeed. Happiness promotes an open mind and broadens possibilities. Sadness encompasses the exact opposite. Sadness instills low self esteem, pessimism, discouragement and defeatist attitudes. With sadness, one’s mind experiences a mental overload as one desperately seeks to find a way out of the misery maze. It seems that every exit route comes with sacrifices not willingly or readily able to be made. Once saddened, things often seem worse than they really are due to the pessimistic outlook recently acquired. The slightest bit of undesirable news can seem like an additional twenty pounds on one’s shoulders. It’s like being kicked while already down and it feels like people do it out of pleasure. One becomes envious over those who seem to shine as bright as the sun. When one is struck with sadness, it often narrows the mind and seems to inhibit possibilities.
Finally, happiness and sadness are quite different emotionally, yet they still manage to have at least one similarity. Both happiness and sadness are emotions that illicit additional emotions. The emotions that happiness brings are positive, while the emotions that sadness brings are negative. Imagine sitting across from your boss as it registers in your head that he’s just offered you a promotion doing exactly what you’ve always dreamed of. You begin to experience excitement, eagerness, and the impulse to jump up and down shrieking in amazement. All of a sudden it seems as if all of your hard work has finally paid off in one of the best ways. You feel a sense of accomplishment, achievement as you slowly begin to climb the corporate ladder. After you remember that your boss is still sitting in front of you, you begin to contain yourself and shake his hand promising that you won’t let him down. At this point, failure is not in your vocabulary and you feel self-assured tenacity begin to run through your veins. Happiness brings about many positive feelings such as self worth, overwhelming joy, bliss, compassion, and appreciation (among many others). The feelings sadness is often accompanied by are not nearly as pleasing. You sit nervously across from your boss as you begin to hear just what you were afraid of. Not only are you losing the only job you’ve ever had, but you’re also losing the only job you’re qualified for. You instantly assume the role of the compliant former employee and begin the walk of shame back to your desk. As you slowly peel the pictures of your children of the wall of your cubicle, you begin to experience turmoil, grief, and embarrassment. Co-workers approach your desk questioning your actions, forcing you to state what just happened, before you have fully accepted it yourself. After having been struck with sadness, self loathing, despair, and vulnerability are in your near future as well. You still can’t believe this is happening to you, and it happens when you least expect it. You are completely unprepared for the setbacks that come with the job loss and soon you experience great fear. You already dreaded the stack of bills on your desk at home before you went to work that day, and now it seems that if anything can withstand this pitfall, it’s that stack of bills. It becomes harder to get out of bed once you remember you have no work obligations any longer. It’s a downward spiral and you seem to have the best seats in the house. Happiness is among the most desirable and healthy, while sadness is undesirable and unhealthy. Sadness can be long-lasting and has the susceptibility to develop into depression. Happiness and sadness are rather different emotionally, yet mildly similar in the way each intertwines with various other emotions.
In conclusion, there are many aspects of both happiness and sadness, and although both are the extreme opposite of one another, they have many similarities. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, happiness and sadness have similarities that are not generally pondered by many. Although happiness is most desired among all people, happiness wouldn’t have the effect that it does without sadness in the world; sadness wouldn’t have the effect that it does on people without happiness in the world. Happiness and sadness go hand-in-hand, are unavoidable in life, and help mold and make us all who we are today. In conclusion, no matter how alike or different happiness and sadness are, they affect everyone. It’s everyone’s choice though in remembering to “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” –Babe Ruth.
© Copyright 2018 Ronda McKenzie. All rights reserved.
to define happiness puts one closer away from the feeling of happiness and that this effort brings sadness.
He even goes so far as to say “asking about happiness can only result in unhappiness” (Kingwell) and that happiness is the “paragon of ineffability” (Kingwell). But why is happiness
such a hard idea to grasp and put into words? The more one tries to answer whether he is happy or not most often that person will only pile reasons why he is unhappy and will wind up sadder
than he was before. John Stuart Mill once wrote “Ask yourself wheth
er or not you are happy and
you will cease to be so.” (Mill) If this is true then the reciprocal
“happiness is bliss” appears to make more sense now more than ever.
In other words the less one tries to define happiness the happier that person will probably find themselves to be. Within this reciprocating relationship between the processes of defining happiness bringing sadness and ignoring the question of happiness sustaining happiness lies the answer. In this way sadness proves to be a sobering phenomenon as its very observation entails realism while happiness proves otherwise as its existence depends on obliviousness. It has been found that pessimism tends to correspond
to realism. In Jennifer Senior’s
Some Dark Thoughts On Happiness
She interviews several positive psychology experts to get an idea of how happiness affects judgment. As a pessimist herself she appears to argue slightly in favor of pessimism when it comes to whether pessimists are more realistic than
optimists. In her essay she writes “One of the most interesting bits of American research to
surface-repeatedly- in books about happiness is a study that shows depressives are far more likely to be realists while happy people are more likely to walk around in a mild state of
delusion.” (Senior) This statement objectively shows how pessimists have more realis
tic expectations and observations of the world around them. She goes further in describing the effect
of pessimists on the world and its history. “The presidents who gave the most pessimistic