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Rosa Park

DIRECTOR of DEVELOPMENT, Pink Shirt Day Panama

TEDCRED 500+

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Embrace sadness.

In a world where sadness is not present, happiness will not exist. Why? Because sadness serves as a comparison to happiness and gives the word 'happiness' a meaning. Therefore, I believe that sadness should not be criticized as a negative feeling, but a necessary feeling in life that will give your life meaning.

Topics: happiness sadness
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    Jun 6 2012: Hi Rosa:>)
    I agree that sadness is not a negative feeling, and it is beneficial to embrace it. When we embrace sadness in a mindful, aware state, it allows us to "feel", on many different levels, thereby learning more about ourselves, the meaning of life, the meaning of people and experiences in our life journey. It allows us to recognize many other feelings like compassion, empathy, respect, humility, gratitude, etc. To deny our "self" the opportunity to feel sadness, is like denying ourselves an important aspect of the life journey.
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    Jun 8 2012: In my opinion, sadness is necessary, just like gladness. The problem appears when we use sadness as a bitter wine to drink and by drinking avoiding to act, to participate, to risk or to abandon our soft lighted comfort situation. Sadness, if it´s under smart control, I think it's not a bad feeling, but a good and necessary. But don't forget the control!
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    Jun 11 2012: I agree. Sadness should be accepted as being a part of happiness.

    Some of the most beautiful art, poetry and music have originated from a state of sadness or melancholy.
  • Jun 8 2012: and celebrate failure :)
    for that is more happiness and success.. :)
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    Jun 7 2012: I look at it like this, If I didn't know how sadness felt like, I would have no clue how happiness felt like. In order to be happy in life, you have to experience sadness, cause its until then that you will truly feel happy.
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      Jun 7 2012: Yes, I agree! As Brené Brown said in her talk, it is impossible to numb one side [negative] of your feelings without numbing the other [positive side]. Without sadness, you won't feel happiness and without happiness, you won't feel sadness. They are used to compare one another. Therefore, sadness shouldn't be understood as a feeling that people hate, but as a necessary feeling.
  • Jun 6 2012: After submitting my comment I read the others and everyone made some very good points. Especially the idea that happiness - and sadness too - are our responses to various brain chemicals. Isn't all life experience at some level about our brain chemicals?

    What gives life meaning is what we give to life, and our feelings of connectedness, growth, etc. Like that quote - "It's not about how many breaths we take in our life-times that give meaning, but rather it's about the moments that take our breath away." Obviously, some of those breath-taking moments include sadness.

    I agree with Barry saying that the "sadness at the loss of a loved one is a sadness that should be cherished." And of course that is different than the sadness at the loss of a television program.

    I have experienced that when my heart felt cracked open by the death of a loved one, there was an almost mystical feeling of heightened awareness of the moment - a humbling silencing of my normal mental chatter happened, which gave me a feeling of looking through a new window or perspective - into those moments. And there was some sort of sense of "pregnant possibility" there, albeit kind of hazy at the time.

    But maybe our minds and perception are so unaccustomed to such grief-induced open-ness that even though it is hard to comprehend and not pleasant to endure, it is nonetheless enriching.

    Still, I have strong hedonistic, fun and happiness-loving tendencies, so I kick and scream and resist those profound moments - even though a part of myself craves them, or at least, craves deep meaning. I find being a human to sometimes be very confusing!
  • Jun 4 2012: I do believe sadness gives our lives meaning. The feeling of sadness is as necessary as any other emotion, or combination of emotions we humans feel. Our feelings have meaning, we feel them for a reason. I do believe embracing sadness is a productive action, in the sense that acceptance of feelings that bring us discomfort is necessary in order to mature. So I wouldn't look at sadness as negative per say, but more or less, just uncomfortable and a part of the human experience. What we must understand is that their is an equilibrium that is found between elation and melancholy and that happiness is by no means the "meaning of life". To make happiness your sole pursuit is hedonistic and as a human I am no better. I of course seek pleasure and avoid pain, however this doesn't make it right. I believe equating happiness with positivity is a tough route to go down and may lead people to misunderstanding their feelings. For Instance a person may say "well I feel good I must be good" when the absolute opposite is completely possible. This goes both ways and I want to be clear that Happiness is simply a state in which our brain is interpreting chemical reactions . I do agree that sadness should not be shunned, this leads to repressing emotions and often drug addiction, anxiety, and other problems that are associated with classifying feelings and the self as good or bad.
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    Josh S

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    Jun 3 2012: I dont think sadness gives our life meaning, but as you said, serves as a contrast for happiness. Happiness gives our life meaning. Without sadness, there wouldnt be happines as you said, but the happiness gives our life meaning, not the sadness.

    Too much sadness is negative, that;s why it is a negative feeling. No body likes to be sad, that is why it is negative. People like to be happy, because it is a positive feeling.
    It is necessary to have sadness, but only because there needs to be something to compare the beneficial feeling of happiness too.
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      Jun 6 2012: Hi J S,
      You say... "I dont think sadness gives our life meaning...Happiness gives our life meaning......No body likes to be sad, that is why it is negative. People like to be happy, because it is a positive feeling."

      What if we know we can learn, grow and evolve from the feelings of sadness on many levels? Sadness, is simply sadness, and is neither "positive" or "negative" in my perception.

      I KNOW the learning I experience from sadness, which I could not have learned in any other way, so I've learned to be comfortable with discomfort. I do not compare sadness with happiness because I am aware of the fact that they can exist simultaniously. We are multi-sensory, multi-dimentional beings, and can experience many different feelings at the same time...IF we are open to that possibility:>)
  • Jun 6 2012: Sadness is an unavoidable part of our experience as human beings, that is, if we are compassionate and aware of the world around us. To thoroughly feel sadness when it occurs in our lives and awareness, and accept it can deepen our appreciation of others' suffering and by comparison, our appreciation for happiness and the many blessings that we have.

    I believe there is profound growth available from certain experiences of sadness, and at the same time I see the need for developing greater resilience so as not to be bogged down with so much empathy and/or personal grief to the point of becoming overwhelmed.

    This has frequently happened to me and many people I know, as we are highly sensitive, empathetic and caring.

    The question is: if a sensitive person has an awareness of the suffering in the world and also of life's "sacred fragility", what can we do to be empowered with resilience and effectiveness to make positive change in the world focused on alleviating suffering? This is a psychological quest for many of us, I suppose. And I think this question is the necessary follow-up to the general idea of embracing sadness.

    In a non-dualistic sense, embracing sadness would be considered an obvious action of accepting and acknowledging what "is". Perhaps one answer to the question I just posed here is to truly embrace and accept sadness at such a complete level that the sadness could be transmuted. But this is just hypothetical on my part - I have not yet experienced such a total acceptance and integration. Feedback is welcome.
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      Jun 6 2012: Linda,
      You ask... if a sensitive person has an awareness of the suffering in the world and also of life's "sacred fragility", what can we do to be empowered with resilience and effectiveness to make positive change in the world focused on alleviating suffering?"

      I suggest that we can be very aware of sadness on many different levels, and we do not need to hold onto sadness. It is a feeling/emotion that can "flow" through us, is it not?

      You answer your own question in your next statement..."embracing sadness would be considered an obvious action of accepting and acknowledging what "is"."
      Sadness does not exist in every moment does it? So, if we are experiencing "what is", as you say, we can be open to each and every moment with curiosity and unconditional love? Even while grieving, for example, there can be laughter and joy? Sadness is one of the many "parts" of our "self", and I believe it is important to recognize each and every "part" that is manifesting in the moment. When we are open hearted/open minded, all emotions can flow with ease...without obstruction:>)
  • Jun 6 2012: I very much agree with you, but I would make a small distinction. Sadness has many forms. Sadness at the loss of a loved one is a sadness that should be cherished. Sadness because your favorite tv show was cancelled? That seems silly. Perpetual sadness (perhaps even depression) because life does not meet your high expectations? That requires therapy, or at least education.

    I think that sadness is considered negatively because it is too often petty.