Embracing sadness

Embracing the Beauty of Sadness

Great men are always of a nature originally melancholy. -Aristotle

We live in a society obsessed with happiness. This site is no exception. We’re constantly prodded with questions:

  • Are you happy?
  • Why not?
  • Why don’t you do something to make yourself happy?

Sadness is perceived as unnatural and malignant. We’re encouraged to do whatever it takes to stop feeling sad. Frequently this means using anti-depressant drugs or other substances to physically change our mood.

But what’s the hidden cost of eradicating sadness?

Author Eric G. Wilson provides a discussion of what we might be losing in his book, Against Happiness. Listen to this brief interview on NPR to get the gist.

Wilson argues that sadness isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it goes hand in hand with creative genius. Countless thinkers (Hemingway and Lincoln to name a couple) have been prone to bouts of extreme sadness.

Sadness contributes to creative achievement as well as tragic demise. Would the world be better off if Hemingway had popped Prozac and lived to be 100?

I don’t know. And this isn’t meant to be an attack against anti-depressant medication or the people that need it. But what about the marginal people who experience the full spectrum of emotion?

Why are we so down on feeling down?

Next time you’re overcome by a melancholy mood, consider this:

  • What is the cause of your sadness? Often the answer to this question can be the realization you need to make a change.
  • How does sadness allow you to appreciate the pain of others?
  • Does sadness make the happy times feel happier? Does it not have it’s own beauty?

Image by Joao Grando