Binary Perception, Apathy & Choices

What’s the opposite of joy?

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We often have this tendency to see things in binaries.

Right/Wrong, Good/Bad, Wife/Girlfriend, Life/Death, you get the drift!

But what makes these binaries such an irresistible proposition?

For starter, it’s comparatively less taxing to deal with the option of this and that. And for the rest of the minorities, going beyond the binaries makes for a decent trap to feel more like an intellect.

That’s why, perhaps, when it comes to tagging our emotions, we end up identifying them at the extreme end of the spectrum.

As a result, there is a tendency to presume that the opposite of Joy is sadness.

Which I’m afraid is not valid.

In fact, the opposite of Joy is apathy, which is nothing but a sudden loss of energy to pursue some of our most cherished goals.

If, by any chance, you happen to experience that feeling where you stop giving a damn to either the process or the results, you kind of know what I am talking about.

The sentiment, at times, doesn’t need your permission to seep into your job, relationship, or your general outlook.

There can, of course, be multiple reasons behind the sudden loss of energy, but the most prominent among them is our inability to get things done our way. Sometimes, even something as innocuous as a poor mobile network can get better of our nerves by sapping our energy.

Surely enough, there is no denying that we all could experience more moments of joy in our lives when everyone seems to agree with us & all kinds of work seem like fun. Working professionals can vouch for these rare moments when their bosses are on vacation.

Unfortunately, we often get frustrated when even small things don’t work out the way we planned. You can try noticing yourself when you fail to locate your car keys when you’re running late to catch a flight.

But contrary to what people prefer to believe, emotions like disappointment & frustration may not be as bad as they’re perceived to be. Every unfamiliar situation need not be a matter of life and death. Sometimes frustrations can make us look into the directions in which we’re doubtful to see.

For instance, while looking for car keys, you might stumble upon an old visiting card of one of your school friends who coincidently resides in the city in which you’re headed.

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Reframed from a different perspective, the seemingly negative emotions can prove necessary and useful for our long-term growth.

In fact, if you’re prepared to see things from a slightly different vantage point, you might realize that some degree of unhappiness & discomfort has the potential to fuel tremendous positive change.

  • For instance, an unhappy state of mind is a reminder to reach out to your friends if you’re feeling lonely.
  • Unhappiness might tell you when your work is not in line with your priorities.
  • A prolonged state of an unhappy mind indicates that you’re losing the enthusiasm to pursue things close to your heart.

If not seen from a different vantage point, that loss of excitement may turn itself into “apathy,” which is one thing to guard against — one of the things that’s capable of taking spark out of your life.

Because at the very fundamental level, apathy is a feeling that you don’t possess the level of skill needed to confront a challenge, or the challenge has become irrelevant to you. Both cases are a clear indication that you’re not only running short on confidence but need to have a fresh relook at your priorities.

But the good news is that we need not despair if we experience fear, anger, or sadness due to our unhappy state of mind.

Because they are problematic only when they become imbalanced —

“When our fear turns into complete paralysis when our anger gets blown into a rage when our sadness turns into despair,” that’s when we know for sure that we have some severe problem in our hands.

Till then, you can refrain yourself from seeing things from the binary perspective while working on your habit to get less frustrated at the loss of your car keys or a poor network.

Written by

Curious by Nature I The Startup, Better Humans, ILLUMINATION-Curated II Loves to Play at the intersection of Cognitive Psychology, Neuroscience, and Philosophy.

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