The Secret To Happiness? Be Sad

Inside-Out-Q&A-Joy-Sadness

I hear  people saying that in order to be happy, we just need to do positive affirmations and let go of negativity. I say the exact opposite.

In order to be happy, be sad. Let me explain.

The new movie Inside Out is geared towards children but I think it’s a movie everyone should see, adults included.

Without giving too much away, the movie focuses on a little girl named Reilly and how she deals with her emotions. There are characters that represent the emotions of joy, sadness, disgust, anger and fear.

In the beginning of the movie, each time Sadness tries to take over, Joy is there to push her away.

I did this for years.

I tried everything to make sadness go away because I thought something was wrong with me if I wasn’t happy all the time. I tried pushing it down, denying it, resisting it. I tried talking myself out of it by doing positive affirmations.

You’ve heard the saying “What we resist, persists?”  That is exactly what happened.

Before I knew it, I wasn’t just sad, I was depressed.

There were times when I felt like a deep dark hole was opening up and swallowing me. All I wanted to do was check out of life and sleep.

Then, after a while, I would begin to feel better and come out of it. (Those who have that hole swallow them up and don’t come out,  need to seek professional help)

When we resist feeling any emotion, it causes a reaction.

Shame and vulnerability researcher, Brené Brown, compiled data that showed we cannot numb one emotion without numbing all of our emotions.

Basically, by not allowing ourselves to feel and process our sadness, we are not able to experience true joy.

In our society, it often seems unacceptable to express sadness. We can feel we need to put on a happy face and act like we’ve got it all together.

When we do that, our sadness festers and ends up coming out in other ways. It can manifest itself as depression, illness or destructive behavior such as addiction.

Or we could have an outburst and explode when we have reached our limit.

However, by acknowledging and experiencing our emotions and talking to an empathetic person, we will find that sadness or any emotion leaves as fast as it came.

This is what happened to little Reilly. Once she allowed herself to talk to her parents about her sadness, it opened the door to true connection as well as letting Joy once again be a part of her life.

The real lesson here is that emotions are not right or wrong, good or bad. They just are. We all have them and all they simply want is to be expressed.

What about those positive affirmations? It is unhealthy and unrealistic to expect ourselves to be happy all the time. If we allow ourselves to feel our emotions, then we can use positive affirmations or gratitude to reconnect with hope and faith.  That way we won’t end up wallowing in negativity.

What emotion are you currently not allowing yourself to experience? Who is your go-to person when you need empathy?

If you are open to it, practice allowing difficult feelings, share with an empathy buddy and see what happens. I bet you’ll be amazed at how much happier you will be when you allow your emotions to just be.

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