The value of sadness
January 18, 2013 by
Categories: Coping, Emotions, Human

I’ve come to realize lately that we are a people driven to be happy. Religious, spiritual, and secular programs all exist that try to teach us how to be happy all the time. Each program makes promises that if we focus on the positive, fake it till we make it, think happy thoughts, or whatever, we will be as happy as the creators of the program are. The problem with this is, I don’t think we are intended to be happy all the time. Any emotion taken to the extreme is not healthy. Getting stuck in sadness is depression; getting stuck in happiness is mania.

Image by bbmahon

Image by bbmahon

I was once asked if there was an end to pain in this world. My answer to that was no because to limit pain, is to limit happiness. They are two sides of the same coin and each have their role to play in life. As with any emotion, at the very basic level, they are the spice of life. However, over the course of my life, both  personally and professionally, I’ve come to learn that emotions have an additional role: our mind’s and spirit’s immune system.

To be happy all the time is just not possible. Plus, to be honest, I think it would get a little boring. Eventually being happy would get old and we would want for something else. It would be like eating our favorite meal everyday. At first it would be awesome, but eventually we would get sick of it to the point where even thinking about it would make us nauseous. To further complicate things, when we fail at programs offering us happiness 24/7, we feel like a failure and that there’s something wrong with us.

Rather than striving to be happy, I think striving to be balanced or content is more realistic. To be able to appreciate both happiness and sadness because each can be fleeting, as long as we don’t hold on to either too desperately.

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