Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Time for Sadness






The last few weeks, I've really been thinking about sadness and its relationship to happiness. I read this article about the benefits of sadness, and found it very interesting.  The author wrote about how sadness serves as a trigger for us, to let us know that something needs our attention, that something in our life needs to change, or that we need to work through something.  He also pointed out how experiencing sadness opens us up to other people's struggles and helps us be more empathetic.  He writes, "only by experiencing sadness can we experience the fullness of the human condition."  

The author also discussed a study about the success of people who reported various levels of happiness.  Here's what he said:  
 "On a scale from 1 to 10, where 10 is extremely happy, 8s were more successful than 9s and 10s, getting more education and earning more. That probably reflects the fact that people who are somewhat discontent, but not so depressed as to be paralyzed, are more motivated to improve both their own lot (thus driving themselves to acquire more education and seek ever-more-challenging jobs) and the lot of their community (causing them to participate more in civic and political life)."
I've also been thinking about how sometimes it's impossible to find happiness amidst certain struggles, and it's downright rude to even suggest such a thing.  When a loved one dies, or a child is diagnosed with an illness or disability, there is a time of mourning during which the suggestion of a silver lining is just inappropriate.  Mourning, reflecting, dealing, coping, praying for peace--these are the ways we get by.  But finding happiness in that process?  I feel guilty that at times I've probably suggested in my blog that this should be natural.  Sometimes happiness in a given situation is unnatural.   


Sometimes horrible things happen.  They just do.  And then, it is right to be sad.  We are designed to be so.  Not forever, but for a time.  And perhaps for quite a while.  Remember the verses: 


A Time for Everything - Ecclesiastes 3
 1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens: 
2 a time to be born and a time to die, ...
 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,

   a time to mourn and a time to dance,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,...
  a time to be silent and a time to speak...
There is a time for sadness, as well as happiness.  It's just a part of being human.



What do you think about the relationship between happiness and sadness?  Where would you rank yourself on a Likert scale of happiness, 1 being very sad and 10 being amazingly happy?  Do you think there's some value to being a bit discontent?  I need to mull all these ideas over in my head for a while, and I'd love to hear what you think. 


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