A Mix of Sadness and Gratitude

Photo by Chris Ensey on Unsplash

It seems impossible to feel sad and grateful at the same time, yet those are the two precise emotions I’ve simultaneously carried with me today.

A deep well of sadness has settled in again, what was once an abnormal feeling has become familiar. To a self-proclaimed ‘glass half full,’ cheery soul, I feel lost in it.

I find myself reflecting and then feeling an emptiness, an absence. I think about days not many years ago that were full, busy, too busy, and the ways I longed for quiet, contemplation, time. I wanted something I couldn’t have and now I want what I once had back.

My yoga toolbox provides me with many tools. Santosha, the third niyama of the eight limbs of yoga, asks that I find contentment. Yeah, I know I should, but how?

Each time I feel sad, today included, I flip a switch. I look around. I count my blessings. I feel so very grateful to be me, living my life. It occurs to me, though, that this feeling doesn’t arise the way sadness does.

Gratitude — the feeling, the thoughts, the well of sincere emotion for all the blessings of life — it’s a learned practice, cultivated through habit.

I wonder, how do I temper the two emotions? How do I regulate them? A spiritual bypasser for years, I no longer want to gloss over the depth of my emotions. I actually want to feel the despair, but how do I do that without getting swept away by it? And how do I allow myself to feel grateful without pushing the sadness so far down it can no longer exist? Am I just crazy? Am I the only person who feels this way? Sometimes I think so. Putting words to it all feels impossible.

Each question begs another. I ponder the state I’ve tried to live in for a while now: the now. It’s clear that if I have one thing and want another, there is no now in that. I project my thoughts into the future, into an imagined scenario, into the way I think it will or should be, and when the magic moment arrives, it never turns out like I imagine.

I complicate life. Over and over. It’s the simple things that make me the happiest. Our woods, my breath, this moment; surely they are enough. But the thoughts don’t stop. Maybe that’s a good thing. I wouldn’t have as much to say if they did.


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