Finding happiness in misery

There is a Chinese saying that goes 否极泰来 (pǐ jí tài lái). It roughly translates as “out of the depth of misfortune comes bliss” or “the good emerges when the evil has reached its extreme.” Which in essence isn’t that different from some of the English sayings like “after rain there’s a rainbow.”

Now the reason why I wanted to write about it is because I have found a lot of meaning in it. It’s something I tell myself whenever things are not going well in my life. It’s this constant reminder that most things in life have a cyclical pattern. That a low is followed by a high, and that a high is often followed by a low. 

So what happens is that whenever I go through times of despair or misery, instead of ignoring my pain, I own it. I fully acknowledge that I’m feeling shitty and I give myself the right to feel that way. After all I’m not a machine, but a human being that is capable of feeling a wide range of emotions – the good and the bad. 

But at the same time, I remind myself that it’s all cyclical and that whatever is gonna happen next, it’s probably gonna be better than what I am experiencing now. So while I am embracing my pain, I also start to feel excitement for what is going to come next. Sure, I don’t know what that’s going to be, but chances are it’s gonna be something good. Chances are that in a few days from now, I will smile again and be happy. 

Anticipating what is going to come next helps put the pain of the now into perspective and mitigate it. It shifts my mental energy into an area of forward-looking anticipation and hope. And before I know it, I’m in a situation of misery, but I am already feeling excitement of all the good things that are going to happen next. "Sure, I’m going through some tough shit, but hey, a lot of amazing things are soon going to crash into my life and that’s kinda exciting”

The danger of this way of thinking is when someone starts to think it reversely. Meaning that when one goes through times of happiness, instead of being present in that moment, they start worrying about whatever bad thing might happen next – merely on basis of the cyclical pattern of life. Basically allowing worry to be the thief of joy. However, I certainly hope it has a different effect. That one appreciates good times more because chances are that those times won’t last forever. 

We all might be familiar with that saying, but I doubt we all are capable to stare into misery and defy it with a smile and a sense of excitement for all the good things that are going to follow. But that’s exactly the way I hope to deal with my own moments of misery going forward.