How Sadness is a Crucial Part of a Happy Life

The other day, I took my kids to see the new Pixar movie Inside Out. It looked like fun, so I was looking forward to it, but I had no idea it would have such big life lessons in it—like, how sadness is an essential part of a happy life.

f you haven’t seen it, Inside Out takes place mostly inside the head of an 11-year-old girl, Riley. The main characters are 5 of her emotions: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear. In the beginning, Joy is the driver, and therefore joy is the main focus of her actions and memories.

When Joy gets pulled from the ‘leader seat,’ she and Sadness have to work together to find their way back to Headquarters.

In the journey, Joy realizes that she needs Sadness to get back to where she was. The reflection and introspection, induced by Sadness, are ultimately what repairs the relationship between Riley and her family. Joy learns that Sadness helps you connect, rebuild and bring things together – if you go there honestly and move through it.

Photo by Andrew Bui on Unsplash

How wise! I love when I – and hopefully my son and daughter – learn such valuable things from animated movies. What a great lesson on the necessity of sadness. Ignoring Sadness and banishing her from being part of your life can cause other emotions to go a bit out of whack – just like for Riley.

So, how can all this apply to daily life?

First, don’t insist on always feeling great. Artificial or forced “feeling good” can be destructive. Don’t pretend that everything is sunshine and flowers if that’s not how you feel. Be honest and acknowledge whatever you’re feeling. It’s okay to sit with the lousy feeling for a moment.

However, be careful not to start feeling sorry for yourself. You don’t want to stay dragged down by the weight of sadness. Don’t overindulge. Allow for a moment of realitythen keep moving forward.

Dealing with Sadness is delicate and a very personalized process. It may not always be easy, but it IS always possible. One technique that I like to try to use if ever I’m in this state is to try to ask the right questions—asking questions is a great way to open up your brain. It helps to shift your perspective, jump on a new Train of Thought and ride into a station filled with possibilities.

You might be thinking, “I feel awful right now, and things are not what I want them to be.” But you don’t want to stay there. So ask yourself: “How can I improve this? What can I do to make this better? When was I in a similar spot, and how did I get out of it?”

If this has ever happened to you, I would love to know what you did to bounce back. What questions did you ask yourself? What did you do? Tell me about it below!

Spoiler Alert! For more on asking the right questions, check out our next post, coming August 2015, to a blog near you. 

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