Is being sad better than being happy?

I stepped out of the movie theatre with my mind buzzing. Disney and Pixar had done it again. They had taken the most basic of concepts, emotions, (please note the oxymoron in that phrase) and created an amazing story.

I don’t think this is a spoiler — well, I hope not at least. I love movies that force me to examine my own life or how I interact with others and this movie did just that. Doing a quick self reflection I was able to quickly find instances where I had fallen prey to this ill-placed notion that, we always have to be happy or put up that front. When, in actuality, each emotional response to a situation helps us to grow one way or another.

One of life’s greatest gifts to us is our emotions. I mean, what would life be like without them? Each one help to balance out the other and, in more ways than one, they compliment each other, helping to mold/shape us into the people that we become tomorrow. Personally, disgust is one I use a little too often and for anyone that has driven with me, Anger can be a best-friend (Let’s be honest, if you are a slow driver get in the right lane — figuratively and ACTUALLY).

There have been a multitude of times were I have felt the need to be happy, even if I knew I wasn’t. I thought to myself, maybe if I just pretend to be happy I will just end up being happy as a result and everything will be ok. As I write this now I think about how flawed that premise truly is. I mean, sometimes that idea worked but that didn’t solve the issue, just delayed it.

What is amazing about sadness is it one of those few emotions that can bring us to our knees on a consistent basis. How many of you actually know something or someone that can consistently kick that metaphorical high chair right from under us?

Now you might be asking why I think sadness is amazing?

There are 3 things that are important to consider about this “negative state.”

1.) It urges you to STOP & come to terms with an issue or problem in your life.

We like to get lost in the hustle and bustle of life, happily neglecting things that are important, but sadness doesn’t allow that. You stop, if only for a moment, to think, reflect, and examine what it is in your life that isn’t right. It is only then that you can begin to work on solutions to improve your situation or reach out for help.

2.) It reveals the power of others

Life isn’t a one man island meant for us to live alone. Human connectivity is, in essence, one of the best things about being a human. In a lot of ways, sadness helps us to recognize the very real need that we have for other people. I can’t tell you how many times I have been sad, frightened, frustrated, etc. and realized that I couldn’t handle it all on my own. As much as it pains me to say so, the truth has slapped me across the face too many times for me to not readily admit it now. Either way, you gain a whole new appreciation for the person whose shoulder you are crying on.

3.) It forces you to appreciate the good times

Imagine this: Cookie cake is your favorite desert EVER. You ask your parents for it everyday and, against better judgement, they concede and allow you to eat it. What will happen? Well, you will quickly lose appreciation for that cake. It will even get to the point where you will despise cookie cake and never want to look at it again. The luster will be lost. Now, imagine the same scenario, but this time your parents rarely allow you to have it. I would be willing to bet, that each time you get the cake you will appreciate it because of all the times that you didn’t have it. Similarly it is the moments of joy and happiness the derive their grand power from the moments of sadness we all go through. So, it is sadness, one of very few things that helps you to appreciate happiness.

I will say that the answer to my initial question, the whole reason you decided to read this, is neither are “better.” Both are absolutely critical to ones health, for without one or the other, life just wouldn’t be all its cracked up to be.