Ex Director, Maastricht University India Institute, Maastricht University

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Why is it relatively easier to stop laughing/smiling all of a sudden whereas difficult to stop crying so quickly?

Does it mean joy is shortlived/ superficial whereas sorrow is embedded far more deeper in human nature? Is it an indication about the strength of negativity in human being?

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    May 18 2011: Sanjay, fascinating topic.
    I have often encouraged people to grab ahold of and savour joy more fully ( and I need to heed the lesson myself). When we experience grief or sorrow the emotion and the events grab us by the throat and it is really difficult to integrate the experience into our existing schemas or world views. In fact, I think that is exactly what tears represent. A point in time where your view of the world is shattered and the pain and confusion of that is released as tears to somehow reduce the pressure.
    For most of us though, we have the option of sampling or just tasting joy. It is as though we do not trust the happiness or the fulfilment of dreams. It is just like compliments. Why is that if someone pays us a complement we are sceptical and dismiss it but if they criticize we attend with all our hearts with the fear that it is so true that it coud threaten our view of ourselves? That goes back to the way our brains process information- we give 2X the attention and weight to negative information as to positive. WHY? Because the negative information might harm or kill us (think- oh- there's a lion as opposed to Oh- there is my beloved- one brings death and another perhaps life).

    When most of us experience joy we sip at it and just sample rather than embracing it and squeezing it like an orange for all the juicy life it holds. Its really too bad, too!
    • May 18 2011: Very nicely put Debra.

      This is also the reason why human beings cannot 'love' as purely as they can 'hate' someone. Hate exists in us in the utmost purest and honest form whereas love is nurtured with uncertain tenderness. If only we could learn from our ability to hate honestly, there would be no need to unnecessarily preach of love.
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        May 18 2011: Sanjay, you are articulating an entire set of thoughts about hate that I do not yet fully understand. I think 'hate' is a complex amalgam of fear, anger and rejection because the individual has no idea how to deal with the threat the other person represents.

        Coulld you please share more about what you have in mind in what you have termed 'the purity of hate'?
        • May 18 2011: Debra,
          Purity= nothing holding back/ 100%
          When an emotion is unleashed without holding even an iota then it pops up in its purest form. The problem with love has been that it seldom gets the opportunity to be released 100% (due to inhibitions, doubts, uncertainty and so on). But whenever it appears in its purest form, it scares the recipient (note the irony - people long for 100% love but they are utterly scared of it)

          Funnily, this is the weakness of positivity and strength of negativity in our personality :)
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        May 18 2011: Ahh! I see, and that is an excellent clarification and observation.

        Could part of the explanation be that hate is more unidirectional while love requires the love object to reciprocate or give feedback that is consistent with the feelings. I utterly adored my babies and my love for them was unidirectional for a time. As they aged though, they wanted (and so they should) to have some input into the love's direction and expression.