Scallywag

There is no pillow so soft as a clear conscience.

~ French Proverb ~

Not Happy, Sad

February 3rd, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 10 secs

IWhen you’re sad, a good friend is golden.

Actually it’s okay to be sad. I mean it. With so much pressure to put on the happy face in society, you can easily feel guilty for feeling  down.

But don’t. We have a repertoire of feelings to handle the things that happen in life. Guilt when we’ve done something wrong. Anger when we see injustice, and joy when we experience something beautiful. Feeling sad is a part of that broad range of emotional response, and it’s okay to feel that way.

Confusingly, the “cult of happy” is still in full swing. For the eager believers, there is no tolerance for being sad, experiencing grief, or struggling with a host of other “negative” emotions.

It’s like you have to hide your despondency because it’s seen as a sign of weakness. When someone is grieving, people say things like: “Oh, it’s good to see he is handling it so well.” and “Yes, it’s great she is keeping a brave face.” Why is it that,  in the face of grief or deep sadness, we aren’t allowed to feel and show pain and be upset?

As a person who loves to promote deep and lasting happiness,  I want to say that feeling sad inside is entirely acceptable. You are allowed to feel dejected, crestfallen, or aggrieved. These are real feelings and I choke on my chewy every time well-meaning people try to deny others’ need to feel.

Of course, we all have ambivalent feelings about being sad. It’s not a place we want to be. Nor is it a state we want those we care about to be in. With the best of intentions we say things like “chin up” and “don’t be sad” because we feel uncomfortable seeing them unhappy. In a perverse way, we insist on others lifting their emotional game to prevent us from getting their unhappy bug.

This is one of my concerns with positive psychology. I believe it’s bizarre to be “up” all the time as it’s not a true reflection on life as it is. Besides, fulfilling happiness is much deeper than that anyway. You can actually be satisfied with life yet sad over the loss of someone, for example, and that’s a rich way to live.

People or organizations that promise to only be positive are missing too much. When a massive chunk of humanity continues to die of starvation, playing happy 24/7 is not healthy. Like the film, The Truman Show, it’s fake and just a little too controlling. Being sad for good reason is about living with honesty and that’s a good thing.

Having experienced major clinical depression myself, I don’t want to imply that being sad and depressed are one and the same. Depression is a medical condition that needs treatment. But feeling downhearted now and again really is fine. Even if those times don’t rate as the high peaks of your week, it’s okay to real and to be allowed to feel as really do.

Feegs

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