“And hard times are good in their own way, too. Because the only way you can achieve true happiness is if you experience true sadness as well. It’s all about light and shade. Balance.” ~Gabrielle Williams
I’d like to believe that nobody enjoys being unhappy. And while I can think of a few people who seem to be perpetual grumps with nothing but pessimistic tendencies, overall, I think we as humans look for happiness any chance we get and like a flower looking for nourishment, lean towards it as much as we can.
Happiness comes from within, but it is also all around.
A few months ago I was standing at a home store lost in all the inspirational signage that has become so popular these last few years. Mostly they were signs I’d seen before, sentiments that never fail to make me smile. But then, peeking out from behind some candles, I saw this small, framed message. The words inside said:
“Sunshine all the time makes a desert.”
I stared at this sign for a while. I thought about it as I continued on to the check-out line. I even took out my phone and added this in as a note since I didn’t want to forget the idea.
I didn’t. Not because the sentiment was in my phone, but because I kept seeing it. The message would simply pop up and there I would be pondering it again.
I thought of the possibility of having sunshine all the time. My initial response was: nothing wrong with that! After all, I am someone who enjoys the sun and is much happier on sunnier days. Do I appreciate the change of seasons living in New England? Well, yes. But every time I am at a beach in summer or travel to one in the winter, I always think—now this, this is the life. I could get used to sunshine every day.
But I see the sign’s point. Some of us would get so used to the bright days, that we may stop appreciating them and enjoying them as much as we should. Our days may even start to appear as dried up and dull.
Because even though I hate to admit it, there’s something about rainy, snowy, cold days that make us appreciate the warm, sunny ones that much more.
But I know this sign isn’t about the weather. Of course, it’s an analogy for life.
Without the dark days, the low moments in life, we may not appreciate the highs and successes as much as we could.
Or would we?
Some of us may read that quote and think it’s not true, that we will never ever get sick of the sunshine and that we will never ever stop appreciating the good fortune.
But if we are honest, the truth is we all get caught up in the everyday routines of life.
The truth is we may sometimes forget how lucky we are and we may not always show gratitude when we should. (Hint: we should show gratitude every day, as much as possible.)
When the lows do happen—which they inevitably do—we also forget to be grateful. Of course it can be a challenge to find the good when we are in the midst of a struggle, but we must. Tough times can be all consuming, but it is in those times that we need to remind ourselves there is always something to be grateful for. And there is a reason for this time—even though we may not see it yet.
I think the sign is meant as a helpful reminder—or maybe even a warning—to not take the sunshine for granted, and to appreciate every single ray that shines down on us. But I also think the sign wants us to be thankful for the not so sunny days. The cloudy, dismal days—the ones that are covered in fog, the ones where our visibility to see three feet in front of us becomes completely skewed—are just as important.
Can you appreciate the good without going through the bad? Of course. But does going through the bad give you a totally different perspective on the brighter times? Yes, absolutely.
“You need to spend time crawling alone through shadows to truly appreciate what it is to stand in the sun.” ~Shaun Hick
Sometimes we get more from the stormy days than we do the perfect ones. Sometimes those days teach us a valuable lesson, make us grow in some way, or force us to make a much needed change.
Don’t discount them. Don’t become so bitter that you can’t see what better things are ahead, as long as you are open to the possibility.
When you find yourself going through a rough, dry spell, remember to search through every grain of sand and find the speck of hope. The insight you gain may be something you didn’t even know you needed and yet, there it is—a gift in the midst of darkness. And while you’re searching, you may begin to see something else.
There’s a little bit of sunshine in each day, no matter what.
Appreciate the dark days—especially when it feels impossible to do so. Because when you can, you will appreciate the sunny days that much more.
And remember, that desert that looks dried up, empty and appears to have nothing of benefit to offer you, may actually give you the solitary, quiet, desolate space you so desperately need to come out on the other side wiser and more nourished than ever before.
Angie Sarhan received her M.F.A in Creative Non-Fiction from Emerson College. She currently teaches college writing. When she’s not teaching, she enjoys traveling, cooking and writing—especially her inspirational, positivity-packed, sometimes humorous, always lighthearted blog. For more inspiration, you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Image courtesy of Alexandra Latypova.