The Opposite of Happiness

What do you think is the opposite of happiness? We’ve been more or less taught since the crawling and teething years that the spectrum of emotion ranges from highs of happiness to lows of sadness.

Here’s a different way of looking at it: happiness and sadness are really the same.

Instead of picturing a linear spectrum, think of a circular spectrum. Happiness and sadness are not 180 degrees from each other; they are back-to-back. These two very general emotional categories are like two sides of the same coin – the coin of passion [ugh, that was corny].

The opposite of love is not hate; it is apathy.

The opposite of happiness is not sadness; it is boredom.

The lack of emotional release and engagement is the 180 degree point. It may be counterintuitive to view sadness as equal to happiness, but this us mainly because sadness has been stigmatized. Being upset is what we all want to avoid, right? Happiness – rainbows, laughter, unicorns, etc – that’s what life’s all about.


Or is being bored and disengaged from life what we really want to avoid?


5 thoughts on “The Opposite of Happiness

  1. Pingback: A: The Anniversary of The Big Blog of All the Shit I Know | The Big Blog of All the Shit I Know

  2. Camus handled this nicely in The Outsider. Meursault is not without love, he’s apathetic. He’s not unhappy, just bored. The admission and acceptance of these states as somehow normal for him is what frightens everyone.

  3. I agree with you that sadness is not the opposite of happiness, however I do not think boredom is the right word. I think the most fitting word would also be apathy because the word boredom is synonymous with sadness or something close to it.

    • You’re right, the concept of “boredom” does tend to be more negative, rather than neutral, colloquially. However, true boredom really is neutral. In practical terms, boredom can go either way – either you’re frustrated or you’re anxious. No one’s ever truly, indifferently bored, just like no one is every truly indifferent, apathetic.

      Thanks for the response.

What Do You Know?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s