You Might Need A Bit Of Sadness

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I for one am afraid that our American culture’s overemphasis on happiness at the expense of sadness might be dangerous, a wanton forgetting of an essential part of a full life. I further am wary in the face of this possibility: to desire only happiness in a world undoubtedly tragic is to become inauthentic, to settle for unrealistic abstractions that ignore concrete situations. I am finally fearful over our society’s efforts to expunge melancholia from the system. Without the agitations of the soul, would all of our magnificently yearning towers topple? Would our heart-torn symphonies cease?

There is a fine line between what I’m calling melancholia and what society calls depression. In my mind, what separates the two is degree of activity. Both forms are more or less chronic sadness that leads to ongoing unease with how things are — persistent feelings that the world as it is is not quite right, that it is a place of suffering, stupidity, and evil. Depression (as I see it, at least) causes apathy in the face of this unease, lethargy approaching total paralysis, an inability to feel much of anything one way or another. In contrast, melancholia (in my eyes) generates a deep feeling in regard to this same anxiety, a turbulence of heart that results in an active questioning of the status quo, a perpetual longing to create new ways of being and seeing.”

Our culture seems to confuse these two and thus treat melancholia as an aberrant state, a vile threat to our pervasive notions of happiness — happiness as immediate gratification, happiness as superficial comfort, happiness as static contentment.”

That’s Eric Wilson from his book, “Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy

First, you may have already noted that your most creative types can be moody.

You may have noticed that you’re more creative when you listen to sad music, or think about sad things.

There is nothing wrong with you.

Use whatever stimulus you need to create better, more authentic content that will stir the emotions of your listeners.

And don’t be afraid to share sad content with your listeners occasionally. Just be authentic and balanced.

Sadness is a real part of life, a part your listeners deal with every day sometimes.

Hearing about your sadness is part of being vulnerable and real to your listeners.

Yes, please, make me laugh if you have that ability.

Just don’t be afraid to make me cry now and again.

This post inspired by Maria Popova and her BrainPickings blog.

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