The Dark or The Light
by Annia Baron
A wise woman lives in the deep south, close to the sea. It is said that she is blessed by the Gods and that her words are passed on from generation to generation. People from all over the world seek her knowledge.
Hopeful and eager, they ask the same question, “What is the secret to happiness?” She answers with a story: “Like a fish in the sea, the woman’s body appears to be flowing through water. Her whole being is in a dreamlike, aqueous state. With a round, protruding belly, it is clear she is moments from birthing. Her arms are strong and inflamed. She summons her intrepid ancestors and dances with her spine bending back and forth. As her voice bellows, her belly splits open and the outpour of magnificence begins. It commences with a vivid prism of colour. From inside her womb, myrtle trees and eucalypts emerge, striking wild natives grow, and exotic birds fly. A luminous glow swirls with sweet melodies and the sound of laughter. There are pink-orange sunsets, glistening waterholes, infinite stars, and all things of effervescence – like a phantasmagoria of everything that our consciousness desires. More and more comes. Astonishing. And then, the opposite. What begins seeping through is the darkest gore imaginable. Out slither blackened, eye-less snakes. Rotting disfigurations. The noise of slaughter and screeching. There’s blood, death, horror, disease, suffering, and all that should never be seen by a child. It pours out of her. It is terrifying and yet the birthing mother isn’t frightened. She wraps everything in cloth and brings it to her bosom.”
The wise storyteller ends with, “You will forever know happiness, if you understand which one you are – the dark or the light.” As a collective, we tend to have a dichotomous perspective. “I’m either happy or sad.” “I’m either a success or I’m a failure.” “That was either good or bad.” We separate things in this way because it provides cognitive stability. After all, if an object is both wet and dry, that’s confusing. If something is both short and tall, our mind doesn’t know how to make sense of it. Similarly, when it comes to emotionally messy experiences, our brain wants to put a definitive label on it. When we’re overwhelmed, procrastinating, and lacking motivation, it’s easier to categorise that into “I don’t have my s**t together.” When we find ourselves making mistakes, being irritable, and opting for fast, processed foods, it makes sense to surmise, “I’m not doing what I should.” We equate unhelpful behaviours with the opposite of happiness, and so, we conclude that because, “I’m feeling sad (low, down, blue etc.,), I’m not happy.”
But what if we taught ourselves to understand that happiness is not whether I am this or that, but rather, happiness is knowing that I am both. Thoughts such as “I’m weak,” “I’m so stressed out” or “I’m not good enough” could be extended to capture a more realistic evaluation, such as “I don’t’ feel strong right now AND I am doing brave things” or “I’m feeling depleted AND I have inner strength” or “I’m stressed AND I am safe.” The benefit of combining these opposites is that we stop placing pressure on ourselves to be just one thing at a time. We learn to hold opposing truths that can be experienced simultaneously and free ourselves from being confined to one category (or feel bad when we think we’re in the wrong one). This way, emotions become fluid and expansive. We accept that joy may sometimes invite a sense of sadness. Courage may elicit uncertainty. Grief can give rise to release, and happiness is not necessarily separate from its opposite.
The wise woman asks again, “Which are you? The dark or the light?” “I’m the light?”, the seeker responds. “No, my friend,” she says. “You are the one that births it all.” “Take it to your bosom, live happy, and let me finish my cup of tea.”
REMINDERS FOR HAPPINESS
- You are no better than anyone else and you are the most important thing under the sun.
- Be more self-caring to care less about what doesn’t matter.
- Learn how to quiet down in loud places.
- What you strive for will appear when you stop trying so hard to find it.
- The more you try to argue with someone, the less likely they’ll be convinced by your perspective.
Annia Baron is a Clinical Psychologist & Mindset Coach. Want to learn more about mindset tools to create a life you desire and deserve? Get in touch on Instagram @anniabaron or visit www.remindyourself.com