In the last few months and in keeping with our guiding theme of wellness building for our blogs and newsletters, we’ve addressed the alarming societal crisis of seriously diminishing happiness. Although some factors such as economic indicators or the stock market have hit historically high levels the happiness factor in the U.S. has continued on its significant downward trajectory. We wish to stress that this focus on happiness should not be perceived as the Holy Grail in and of itself. We’re not looking to achieve a perpetual state of giddiness, not only because it is not possible, but because it is actually not desirable.
The yin/yang theory of traditional Chinese medicine reminds us that life is a dance between two states: the yin that corresponds to contraction and the yang that corresponds to expansion. It is represented by the diurnal night and day cycle. It teaches us that happiness is better protected when we have learned to deal with the inescapable periods of adversities that pepper human life.
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Being prepared for these ‘down’ periods comes with emotional maturity that is developed by learning as early as childhood that not every day is a play day. The emotionally immature and unprepared person is likely to unnecessarily take any degree of adversity as an over-emphasized great hardship. Recovery for him or her becomes longer and more difficult it needs to be.
A balanced yin/yang perspective sees the silver lining in everything that occurs as an opportunity to learn, evolve, adapt, and grow. Through that process we become less effect and more cause in the unfoldment of our life experience. It makes us take baby steps toward the vision expressed by William Ernest Henley in his famous poem, Invictus, ending with the verses:
I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.
We are currently in the energetic season of the Metal element of Chinese medicine that is the Fall. After the peak expanding energy of Summer–yang energy–we have the progressive contraction of that energy preparing us for the Winter–Water/yin energy–when yang is at its nadir and yin at its zenith.
The normal dominating emotion of Fall is sadness–sadness at the diminishing exuberance of Summer yang energy felt with the reduction in daylight hours.
How we react to this trend in Fall energy determines what benefit we get from it. The natural contraction of nature is an invitation for us to focus internally in a process of introspection and acceptance of changes naturally occurring both in our lives and in nature all around us.
The successful emotional passage from Summer energy to Fall energy, at the peak of contraction, is to embrace sadness as a natural tendency that can be transcended through opening up to a deeper feeling and knowing that all is well and as it should be. That is what is meant by being in balance emotionally with the energy of the season. That psychological balance is critical to our well-being and leads to a positive level of happiness.