Much of my interest over the past year or more has been exploring the relationship between the mind and body. It is unequivocally clear that our mental constructs [paradigms] create our view of reality and, therefore, tremendously influence our levels of contentment [happiness] or discontent [sadness]. It is a choice, a difficult one at times, but one that can be ‘cultivated’ by being aware of the possibility of choice.
The field of positive psychology has promoted this notion as well. But what happens when we just feel sad? Should we quickly dismiss it? Should we chide ourselves for our ‘weakness’? Our inability to pull ourselves out of it? Absolutely not! In fact, that will only contribute to our sadness, our sense of inadequacy, or belief that we are incapable of finding joy.
The truth is–all life is comprised of joy and suffering. Not all suffering can be, or should be immediately dismissed–even if we could. Suffering, like physical pain is an inherited, evolutionary adaptation to existence. Both alert us to problems we should attend to.
Some of our emotional suffering we can address and assist in our own healing. But if view our emotional life as something which we should be able to control completely, we will only make ourselves more depressed.
There is also the power of sadness to transform us–personally and creatively. It can alert us to a deeper reality which demands a reaction. Artists have used their own angst to create incredible art–of all kinds. Without this sense of melancholia, who knows what music, painting, writing, plays, books etc. would not have emerged.
Personal sadness may alert us to change our life’s conditions–seek a new job, career, friends, spouse.
Society’s dependence on drugs, alcohol, sex to deaden our feelings, our dark emotions, does nothing to transform ourselves. We just become numb, unfeeling, uncreative and fail to reach our highest potential.
I am not advocating the ‘dark side’ as a state of being–only as a reality which can become a source of growth and healing. Don’t worsen sadness by feeling guilty or inadequate. Embrace it as part of life, an opportunity for growth. But choose to act on it, rather than succumb to it.