Putting happiness and sadness in perspective

Putting happiness and sadness in perspective

May 09, 2018

Last week we talked about the emotional cycle of stock investing with the help of emojis. link It’s good to be aware of the different stages where our emotions bring us and be reminded of the bigger picture so that we can put things in perspective.

Today what I’d like to talk about is having the right perspective about happiness. Parents always say this, “All I want is for my children to be happy.” Of course I’ve said that a few times myself, but we should examine the effect of that goal more carefully.

In a world obsessed with finding happiness (there are thousands of books and talks about the topic), why is there a surge in the number of cases of depression, and alarmingly so among kids. Suicide ranks as the top 3 cause of death among those aged 15-44, and the top 2 in the tender age bracket of 10-24. Although the Philippines has a lower incidence of suicide estimated at 2 for every 100,000 compared to the world average of 16 for every 100,000, there is a rising trend. My heart is crushed each time I hear a story of a kid who commits suicide. (To read more on depression and suicide, click link. To watch FQ Live! discussion click link. )

Are we raising children lacking in AQ (Adversity Quotient) and Emotional Agility? Is our misplaced pursuit of happiness causing us profound unhappiness?


Learning from Sarah G. breakdown

A recent trending topic is the breakdown of great singer actress Sarah Geronimo. I watched the short clip of how she broke down and walked out of her own concert last month. In her emotional talk before a song number, she said that even if she is now enjoying the success, cheers and admiration of people that she dreamed of having as a kid, she realizes now that she’s not ready for the trappings that go with it – the pressure to always do good, to be a role model, to be content. She went on to say, “I’m sorry, pagod po ako, so sorry. I’ve been asking myself bakit I feel empty. Hindi ‘yong successful na shows o hits ang makakapagkumpleto sa ‘yo at makapagpapasaya sa ‘yo bilang isang tao, kundi ‘yong tunay na pagmamahal na hindi nagbabago, kumpleto ka man o hindi. Unti-unti po hinahanap ko kung ano ba talaga yong gagawin ko para I will feel fulfilled…” (Click  link to watch video.)

Why is Sarah G still unhappy and feeling empty? She has a great career and Matteo Guidicelli. Then I saw a subsequent interview with her about her breakdown and her parents, who have been reported to still be very controlling of the now 29 turning 30-year-old artist. She seemed like a very respectful daughter always defending her parents. Then it occurred to me, maybe there’s a big struggle in her because each time she encounters a conflict with her parents, one has to be right and the other has to be wrong. One has to be good and the other has to be bad. And the respectful obedient child in her ends up resenting herself because she’s not agreeing with her parents.

Not to oversimplify her problem and those of other children when it comes to dealing with their parents, arguments with parents (hopefully within respectful parameters) are normal and a sign of engagement. Usually, there is no black and white good and bad, but there are roles being played, opinions, convictions being raised and fought for.

Sure there will be sadness, anger that will arise from it, but such is life. Harmony only exists because there are stages of disequilibrium that we go through.


Honing argument skills

Probably a good skill to develop among family members is how to argue. I grew up in a home where my parents allowed us to argue and my adult takeaway from it is it’s normal for siblings to quarrel but at the end of the day, they still love each other dearly. I kept this in mind when my sons reached that stage of everyday quarrels. Now that they’re all young adults, I see them love and really appreciate each other, but they still argue. Heck, they’ve become good at it, even with us, their parents. 🙂


Obstacles and Sadness

I am also a sucker for happiness. I love happy moments with my boys, extended family and friends. Who doesn’t? But maybe we just ought to remind ourselves of the healthy perspective about happiness.

For as long as we live, we will encounter obstacles. No matter how earnestly we pursue happiness, there will always be sadness (and the rest of the eight basic emotions including anger, fear, disgust, surprise, trust, anticipation).

It is good to deposit happy moments into your children’s memory bank, for just like a bank account, he can draw from it in times of crisis. However, it is also important to teach them how to welcome life’s obstacles in a healthy way. Obstacles are great teachers of problem-solving and resilience. They should also build their problem-solving kit.

Allow your children to be sad, mad, etc. Society has become allergic to sadness and is so ready to prescribe the “happiness pill” without the proper diagnosis of the problem. If you watched the Sarah G. video, you must have noticed how the audience tried to stop her from pouring out her sadness. You might say that it’s because they paid their tickets to have a good time and you’re right. But don’t you also observe that as a natural tendency of almost everyone, “Wala yan, kaya mo yan. Happy happy lang!” Yes, it’s good to be cheered on but there is also a need to be validated about our negative emotions. And maybe at that time when Sarah G or any family or friend who starts pouring out to you, what’s more needed is just a set of ears to listen, a shoulder to cry on, a person to acknowledge that the negative emotion is just but a valid feeling at that moment.

Sadness and other negative emotions should not be allowed to linger for a prolonged period of time, but they are definitely not to be ignored, swept under the rug, or extinguished immediately without proper understanding. Negative emotions are important signals that are calling our attention. Obstacles in life are not just irritations but are opportunities to learn from and improve on something.

Instead of relentlessly pursuing happiness, we should seek to pursue growth and improvement.


Parallelism with Investing

Come to think of it. The way a lot of people live their lives is similar to the way they invest. Most people (‘say 99% of our population) do not invest in the stock market because they do not like the ups and downs that go with it, so they just settle for low earning fixed income instruments. What happens if you do this? Ten years after, your hard earned cash would not have grown. In fact, its purchasing power would have shrunk.

It’s the same with life. There is no growth in the comfort zone. Just like the stock market, life doesn’t get better in a straight line. wallet-icon



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Rose Fres Fausto is a speaker and author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon (English and Filipino versions). Click this link to read samples – Books of FQ Mom. She is a Behavioral Economist, Certified Gallup Strengths Coach and the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards. Follow her on Facebook & YouTube as FQ Mom, and Twitter & Instagram as theFQMom.



Sarah Geronimo news from ABSCBN.com and video from Crizze Batell you tube channel. Image from poetsandquants.com used in cover.