Why You Should Be Sad
"I'm thankful for these tears running down my face - Feeling anything used to be something that I craved. I'm grateful that I feel alone and sad. It's means I felt connected at one point in the past."
That is a couple lines from a poem I wrote this morning. I sat in my car and had a really sincere sort of sorrow hit. I listened to a song in my car and I cried, really for no reason that I could pinpoint - I just felt... Heavy. Then after the song ended and my tears let up, I experienced something I never have before. I felt grateful that I was sad. Yes. Grateful. Somehow, my sheer existential exhaustion was turning into a twisted sort of joy.
We all have a basic idea, in some form or another, that feeling positive is good, and good is the target we should hit every day possible. If we miss that target, we failed, and hopefully we learn from it. That has been my basic worldview, and I imagine most people's for a long time.
Sadness has a bad reputation, and understandably so. It doesn't feel good. So what's the purpose of sadness? Whether you believe sadness to be a result of evolution or designed by God himself, there must be a reason for it. I believe the very existence of sadness is confirmation that humans are meant to live, not survive.
Objectively, sadness serves no purpose. Negative emotion inhibits your productivity, makes you less attractive to other people, and can even take years off of your life. So in a society where the output of your work is often confused as an accurate measure of your value, and your value is the determining factor of your success, sadness is a very bad survival strategy. It will not get you a job. Smiling gets you a job. It will not make you friends. Being funny makes you friends. So if being a human being is about surviving, sadness should be avoided at all costs. But what if survival is not the reason we exist? What if the full spectrum of virtuous human existence includes and calls for sorrow?
Today, I experienced a feeling of wholeness as I allowed myself to feel heavy. As my heart was perforated and exposed, I began to feel connected to the world. I began to understand that a soft and open heart was more noble and difficult to achieve than a hard and angry heart. It's quite easy to be angry or apathetic.
I began to comprehend that a blue heart has layers of beauty that a blissfully ignorant heart cannot compete with. To know sadness is to know joy. To know pain is to know peace. To be sad is to be human - Fully human, functioning in completeness of oneself, rather than in a fabricated mode of survival that exhibits no weakness.
Appealing to your sadness is to live, not just get by. Without it, you would be merely a machine, designed for survival efficiency. You'd be a compressed, limited, lifeless being, incapable of feeling the full spectrum of thought and unable to appreciate little things. Sadness is God's great tool to show us glory and beauty in things we'd otherwise ignore. Sadness is an awe maximizer. It's your friend. It makes you approachable. It makes you tender. Embrace it. You need sadness. Don't shy away from it.