It seems like a strange concept doesn’t it? That to be happier you have to be sad. But it’s true. If you want to be not only a happier person but a better person, you should embrace sadness. Let’s see why and how.
Embracing sadness can make you happier. The world is full of people that are sad about one thing or another. If you ever meet a truly happy person, you do not know that person very well. Every single person has a reason to give up, but the point is that we don’t. The world is a cruel and harsh place, and it is going to kick you until you bleed. Ignoring the pain that life causes is the fastest route to alcoholism, drug abuse, sexual perversion and even suicide. Life is going to kick you, and you have to let it hurt. You have to give yourself time to let your hurt go away. You cannot change what is in the past, but you can make damn sure that things do not go the same way in the future. Let yourself feel sad, so that you may heal and become happy again. Bottle up your feelings, and they will be expressed in another (and usually more negative) way.
Elizabeth Kubler Ross says we go through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The first three, denial, anger, and bargaining happen in any order, and we often find that the first four seem to happen out of sync, such as how one day you are angry, the next you are depressed, and then right back to angry again, and so on. The last stage is always acceptance, and it is the most difficult stage. Your goal is to find a way to accept what has happened, and learn as much as you can from it. If your goal is not acceptance and learning, then you may find yourself stuck in the Kubler Ross cycle forever. Happiness will come after acceptance, but you have to let the other stuff happen first.
There is a lot of comfort to be had from feeling sad. We all know depressive and moody people because they are everywhere. Are they genuinely having a terrible life, or are they seeking out and focusing on negative and horrible things? Why would somebody do this? People do it because feeling sorry for yourself is comforting. Begin depressed, sad and moody turns into a big, safe, warm blanket with which we are able to soothe ourselves. What is worse is that the world is full of people that spend their lives trying to make other people happy, which means that being moody, sad and depressed is a great way of getting attention. These are the reasons why sadness is seductive, but it is not healthy, and people will eventually become tired of engaging with sad, moody, moany and depressive people.
Most people have an element in their life that annoys them. For some, it is how the price of Pringles goes up and down dramatically and on a whim. For other people, it is the plastic piece on the bottom of their door that now makes it stiff to lock. These are issues you may wish to change, but your attitude towards them needs to change first. If you were struck down with cancer, MS, and liver failure tomorrow, do you think your little annoyances would matter as much? You are choosing to “allow” them to annoy you, so make another choice.
Most people are apt at burying their feelings. Your world may be crashing down around you, but to your family, friends, and co-workers, you appear to be having a normal week. You are not rolling around on the floor crying and screaming at the sky because you are good at hiding your sadness and grief, but you shouldn’t put it off. Telling yourself that you will ignore the issue and deal with it another day is unhealthy. If you do it for too long, then you often need help to help you maintain your sense of self. Soon you will turn to intoxicants to help you forget or stop thinking, or you will turn to meaningless sex, cruelty to others, self-harm, and sleeping too much. Dealing with your sadness and grief is GOING TO HURT A LOT, but putting it off makes the pain fester to the point where you are unable to deal with it.
Many people enter a state of clinical depression at some point in their lives. The idea is to work through it. Some events deserve a bout of depression! If you lose a friend to cancer, or your cat is run over, those events deserve a period of grief and depression. You are not a robot or a Vulcan; you have feelings and they were hurt. However, you must remember that sticking with depression and not allowing yourself to recover is a slap in the face to the ones you lost. The most precious things you have are their memories, not your hurt feelings of missing them. Things are not beautiful because they last forever!
There is an unspoken rule that you are supposed to be happy all the time, but trying to be so is both frustrating and tiring. Come to terms with the fact that some days are going to be bad, sad and outright boring. Stop trying to make everything a happy experience or a perfect experience. So your boyfriend accidentally peed on the bath mat; it was bound to happen one day. So your mother favored your brother again; it’s her loss. So you turned up late for work again because your phone battery died during the night; it is just another learning experience that you may remedy so you don’t miss something even more important in the future. Plus the people you work for are lucky to have you in their team at all!
While being sad is unfavourable, it allows you to think more deeply about your life and the things that are causing your sadness. It is when you're feeling down that your mind follows a pattern of introspection. This, in turn, allows you to see things from a different perspective and to judge things differently than if you were happy.
By feeling an array of different emotions, you're able to empathise with others when they too are feeling down or upset. This is because you know what it feels like and you can put yourself in their shoes.The lessons that you've learned while being sad, can be passed onto others in order to help them.
It is when we are truly sad that we start to look at the people and things in our life. We are able to spot the reasons why we're feeling so terrible and perhaps realise that we've set expectations that are unreachable or even unhealthy. It helps us make adjustments in what we need from life, what is attainable and what isn't.
I love that the theory of the pursuit of happiness depends more on the way you defeat sadness than because of it simply not being a factor. Are you ready to stop resisting sadness and embrace it to move forward positively?
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