Stress, happiness, being present and love – opposites
A number of things have shown up recently that have made me reconsider what are classically considered to be opposites.
Short is clearly opposite to tall, high to low, hot to cold; but I’m not sure now that sad is the natural opposite happiness, or anxiety the opposite of calm, or hate is the opposite of love.
Try these new opposites out and see what you think.
It seems to me that stress is actually the opposite of happiness. When we are stressed we cannot be happy. Linked to this is the recognition that anxiety is actually the opposite of being present to the moment.
When we are happy we are immersed in the moment; when we are stressed or anxious our natural focus is not on the now but on the multiple possibilities of what bad things can happen in the future.
Recognising that stress and happiness, and anxiety and being present are opposites and can’t coexist, is quite useful as it informs us better as to what we need to do to be happier and more present. Using the old opposites of ‘sad’ and ‘not present’ give us less useful and clear information as to what we need to do to resolve how we are feeling.
Love can be described as the ability to focus on the good things about someone, or something, else. When people first date they are massively forgiving and compassionate of each other’s little flaws and foibles, finding them ‘cute’ and attractive. Love starts to fade when people focus up on the flaws as problems, difficulties and issues. So possibly the opposite of love is focusing on what is wrong or ‘doubting’. Certainly any relationship can not exist without shared trust, and if you doubt your partner’s honesty, commitment and shared values, or find yourself doubting your own commitment to them then this can very soon turn into a destructive spiral where all your thoughts are focused on those destabilising ways of thinking. Another layer of doubt can then be added, where you doubt the relationship just because you notice yourself being doubtful about it, people will often use the phrase to themselves ‘well, if there wasn’t anything to be doubtful about them why would I be doubting it’
Again this is quite useful in that if the opposite of love is doubt then if we want to rekindle love in a relationship we need to stop being overcritical, searching for perfection and start to trust ourselves again.
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About Phil Parker
Phil specialises in the psychology of health, happiness and genius.