Is it yet another day when getting out of bed seems to be the toughest task? Are the goals you aim to accomplish continuing to allude you? Do you constantly feel like someone is kicking you hard on the inside when you’re sure it can’t be pregnancy because one, you are smarter than that and two, your gender might not allow that biologically! Do you often experience weekend/weekday blues? Then let me tell you, it’s perfectly fine. It is completely okay to be sad. In fact, sadness is the only way one realises what happiness feels like.
It is perfectly fine if you feel these blues are protracted and holding you captive like a quick sand. In my opinion, the idea of blue isn’t that bad because the sky turns blue at dawn. So, there’s a possibility that the sun is about to rise for you. Blue is also the colour of the sky and the sea. Both reign over vast expanses and a mere peaceful gaze at the two leaves one thinking, if not spellbound.
I understand that these metaphors sound mystic and inconsequential when one wishes to rid himself/herself of sadness. Allow me to sound ludicrous when I say, “Sadness is the most productive human behaviour.”
Let’s begin with our society’s hierarchical preferences for certain emotions, while simultaneously creating an aversion for others, particularly sadness. I believe it begins with in the manner of our upbringing. “No, don’t be sad, don’t cry. C’mon cheer up now, be happy!”. In the almost two decades of my life, I’ve come across the latter sentence more than I’ve ever heard people telling me that it is okay to be sad.
If they do, their sentence is always accompanied by “Think of the happier times”. The concept of thinking about the happier times is as baseless to me as was ‘sadness is the most productive human behaviour’ to you.
We have been brought up in an environment where being happy is the only acceptable state of mind. Occasionally, even being angry is given a social and parental approval, but when it comes to sadness, our near and dear ones undertake the task of preventing the said emotion to exist in our vicinity.
The averse behaviour that we have towards sadness stems from the discomfort it carries. We are taught ways to deal with our anger. These ways range from hitting the gym to punching the walls. There aren’t any such defences against sadness. It is the rawness and inescapable nature of the emotion which might make one feel unarmed against it and hence the only plausible way out that remains is, to avoid it!
We grow up to realise that at times, even when the intensity of the emotion isn’t too high, we end up running away from it. The wisdom of yin and yang teaches us, without the fullness of one, the fullness of other is lessened too. Our inability to realise the importance or at least, to acknowledge the presence of sadness trains us in suppressing the emotions. I have grown to believe that suppressed emotions grow up to be the corpses called personalities.
We shall now dive into the ‘why’ quotient of the importance of sadness. Borrowing from Susan Piver, an award-winning author, sadness is the only emotion which has the power to change the world. The lives of great people such as Martin Luther King, Savitri Bai Phule, Mother Teresa amongst many others, had the unvarying common factor of sadness. Their journeys became great because they were overwhelmed by grief and it’s cause became the cause of their lives. They felt sad and decided to harness the emotion.
The moment we experience sadness, we try to escape it by turning it into a more bearable emotion such as anger, helplessness, and hopelessness. The sadness that is rooted in anger often leads to an action that sprouts out of the dearth of clarity and ultimately leads to confusion. Helplessness and hopelessness lead to complete non-action, and thereby confusion.
Fighting sadness is futile as it leads to despair while embracing it leads to compassion and understanding. Ernesto Alvarez, while talking about sadness and happiness says “it is important to feel sad as our happiest memories are formed right after the sad ones; just as you think you’re feeling down and blue, your friends or your family do their best to cheer you up, or new, positive doors in your life are opened”.
The same idea has been beautifully shown in Disney Pixar’s amazing movie, ‘Inside Out’.
The story revolves around a teenager, inside whose brain reside the emotions of joy, sadness, disgust, anger, and fear. It talks about the high ambitions of the emotion Joy. Joy wishes to control the protagonist hence making every memory a happy one. Inevitably, she saw Sadness as a burden who had to be kept at bay from all the memories, lest she ruins her party. However, during the climax Joy realises the purpose of Sadness- adding value to memories.
Sorrow is not the sign of weakness, but a chance of doing something better by channelizing our emotions for the greater cause. Various scholars advocate that meditation is the simplest way to go about doing the same.
While I am uncertain if any of the theoretical and philosophical explanations helped you, I am willing to wager on the following aspect. You look beautiful not just when you smile, but also when you don’t. You are beautiful with all your vulnerabilities and insecurities. It is alright. Don’t feel guilty of not being perpetually happy.
May your period of sadness be productive and illuminating!
Edited by Sanchit Gupta
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