The 2-Sided Coin: Finding Peace in the Dualities of Life

Jun 5, 2024

The Duality of Life 

I’m sure you’ve seen the movie ‘Forrest Gump’ (if you haven’t, you really should do).

In it, Forrest famously says that ‘life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get’.

And he’s right.

But I’d also say life is like a two sided-coin (a chocolate one, if you prefer…).

Why? Because everything in life has two sides to it.

Don’t believe me?

Okay, name one.

I bet you can’t, can you?!

If you think DEEPLY enough about it, you’ll realize the truth: That EVERYTHING in this world has two sides – two potentials.

Your romantic relationships have an upside and a downside. . .

That amazing job that pays well also demands long hours. . .

Heck, from a scientific materialist perspective, THE UNIVERSE ITSELF seems to be governed by dualistic forces and polarities at a fundamental level: matter and antimatter, positive and negative charges, attraction and repulsion forces like gravity versus dark energy, entropy and order/information, even the wave and particle duality in quantum physics…

The list goes on.

It seems that the very fabric of reality is constructed from contrasting complementary pairs or dualities.

It’s one of those profound yet beautifully simple truths that is staring us right in the face, yet we often fail to appreciate it fully.

Once we do, we’ll have learned a profound lesson about happiness and the importance of managing our expectations in life.

two coins; one shows a happy smiling face; the other shows a sad, face

Life Is Complex. . .

Good and bad, happy and sad, love and hate, success and failure — these ‘dualities’ permeate every aspect of the insanely complex and seemingly chaotic human experience.

It’s like an inescapable universal law encoded into the fabric of existence itself.

Everything comes in pairs of opposites.

It’s the classic coin toss — heads and tails.

At this point, you might be thinking, “Aha! Gotcha! What about something like happiness then? Doesn’t that amazing feeling just have one side — you know, the happy side?”

Well, nope, sorry, it doesn’t.

Even happiness has a yin to its yang.

Think about it: When you’re deliriously happy, you’re simultaneously viewing the world through rose-tinted glasses that distort your perception of reality.

You’re utterly euphoric, but there’s always the potential for that happiness to be temporary or situational.

In other words, the flip side of feeling gloriously happy is that it blinds you to life’s difficulties and cannot last forever.

It’s fleeting. It’s temporary. It’s impermanent…

The fact is: Happiness and sadness are two sides of the same coin.

That’s the duality of life.

Misguided Attachments

The lack of understanding about the reality of ‘happiness’ AND the fact that so many people try so desperately to cling to the one positive is the root cause so many conflicts and problems in this world, both for individuals and society at large.

The problem is, most of us get insanely attached to only experiencing the “good” side of that metaphoric coin.

We crave love and happiness and success while running away from the hate, sadness, and failure.

We naively believe we can have the sweet without the sour, the pleasure without the pain – and some people will do literally ANYTHING to achieve and then hold on to that happiness.

But life can’t work that way; it’s not the natural order of things.

The two sides are inextricably linked.

You can’t have one without the risk of the other. . .

The Mindfulness Opportunity

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

The fact that everything in life has two sides gives us an opportunity to develop our mindfulness and emotional intelligence.

After all, if everything has two sides, then our own MINDS do, too.

Despite what you may think, the human mind can really only be in one mental space at any given moment (which is why multitasking is just a myth).

It constantly flickers between KNOWING or THINKING.

You’re either spending most of your time replaying the past and imagining the future in your head (which is just thinking) or truly living in the present and experiencing that present consciousness (which is, essentially, mindfulness).

Cultivating Present Awareness

One of the keys to developing true mindfulness is to become aware of the distinct states of thinking versus simply knowing or being present.

We spend most of our days mindlessly absorbed in the thought streams constantly looping through our minds – rehashing the past, imagining the future, judging, problem-solving, and so on.

It’s this mental chatter disconnects us from the richness of the here and now.

Practicing mindfulness means noticing ourselves engaged in that thinking mode, then consciously shifting into a state of pure observational awareness and simply knowing whatever is happening in that present moment – the sights, sounds, sensations, and feelings you’re experiencing – without the mental commentary.

Over time, you’ll get better at recognizing when you’re mindlessly thinking versus mindfully knowing, and that awareness itself will help you live with more presence (and happiness).

Learn more about how to practice mindfulness by taking one of our online courses.

The Path to Wholeness

So, do yourself a massive favour:

Be realistic about your expectations of life and understand that every moment of happiness has the potential for happiness waiting behind, just like the front and back of your hand – just like a two-sided coin.

That’s not a pessimistic view – it’s a wise view.

It’s a right view.

It’s a perspective that will save you from a LOT of suffering further down the line. 

Does that mean you can no longer have any fun and have to live in fear?

Of course not.

It just means you no longer need to live in the darkness of delusion.


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