On the tumblr account I recently created (if you need me I’ll be over here, keeping up with ALL the hottest trends of 2007), someone asked the anonymous question:
“How do you deal with sadness?”
Most tumblr questions I answer only insofar as they are interesting to me and/or present the opportunity to be funny via amusing myself and occasionally others (and so the circle of narcissism comes full…well, circle (I was in trouble like four words into that one)).
However, the above question struck me as one frequently on the minds of many young folk (and their not-so-young brethren such as myself), and seemed deserving of a slightly more in-depth answer than would befit the norms of that site. I’m fortunate because I’m generally one of the more positive humans I know, and I have primarily positive and uplifting people in my life, so I don’t find myself in this sort of situation very often. But when I do, it’s as potent as any other emotional state.
The answer (like all good answers), isn’t one answer. The answer is three answers. For me, at least. So far. It may be more by the time I’m done writing this thing out.
“How do you deal with sadness?”
Answer number one: I surround myself with the people, things, and activities that bring me joy.
This may seem the most obvious of the three, but the principle is simple: if you’re going to create an environment of sadness/negativity, you are going to have a lot of trouble not being sad. I’m not saying it’s not possible, you’re just creating more work for yourself than is necessary. I know sometimes when I get sad I don’t *feel* like being happy or being taken away from my world of wallowing (not to be confused with World of Wallowing, the less popular online role-playing game I invented), so instead of going right from sobbing to playing on the trampoline, it’s nice to have something in place that will act as a stepping stone, so instead of taking you from “depressed” to “overwhelmingly joyous” maybe it’s something that takes you from “depressed” to “pleasantly apathetic.” For me, it means instead of watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (a movie I absolutely love but does nothing to bolster my mood) — but also not being ready for the laugh-riot that is Anchorman or Dumb & Dumber — I might watch a sports documentary or a Wes Anderson film (sad but not too sad, comedy but not uproariously laugh-driven). The same is true with people; if you’re an introvert and you’re feeling down, you might not want to hit the super hip rager of a party that the popular kids are throwing, but maybe having a couple friends over to drink hot chocolate and watch Netflix (I like movies, if you haven’t gathered that already) would be enough to bolster your spirits. Maybe you’ll think it a bit passé, but I also enjoy reading with some calming but bright background music (classical, jazz, Anderson Cale) as an activity to counteract malaise.
Answer the second: I let God/Jesus do the heavy lifting.
This may not be a very popular or “cool” answer, but truthfully a lot of what gives me comfort when I’m sad or depressed is the hope that comes from relationship with Jesus as Savior. It removes a lot of the pressure that I put on myself or my successes/failures or my environment/circumstances to provide me with happiness and/or a sense of purpose, and lets me rest easy in the hope of Christ. Ultimately, the foundation of my joy comes from the wellspring of eternal love that is God, and all of life’s earthly concerns and sad matters fall into appropriately-lesser perspective by comparison.
Answer three: I don’t.
I don’t want to seem like I’m promoting the idea of wallowing in one’s own sadness, but a myth that is incorrectly perpetuated is that one needs to find a *solution* to sadness at all. The truth of the matter is that in many intense instances (death of a loved one, loss of a career, eviction, etc.), heavy sadness is a very real and very necessary response. And the same is true with lesser sad events as well. Your body is built to respond with sadness as a way to respond and reflect, and I find that meditating through the sad times can be a healthy and effective way to process and learn from sadness. If you broke your leg, you wouldn’t begrudge your body the time it needed to heal & repair, and the same is true for your emotional body as well. So oftentimes when I’m struck with sadness, I’ll let it run its course, spend some time in prayer and reflection, and let it provide the sharp contrast that makes my happiness all the brighter.
So, my anonymous occasionally-sad chum, maybe some of this is helpful to you, maybe it’s not, but either way this is how I process through the sad times, and it works for me. And if none of that helps, there’s always alcohol. Please drink responsibly.
…Want more Mind Bullets? New posts go up every Wednesday at noon PST (or as close to that as I feel like), and you can subscribe if you want them delivered right to your inbox! …Or if you’re too impatient to wait that long you can follow me on twitter, instagram, tumblr, youtube, (new videos every Monday), and my boring personal website. Whew, that’s a lot of self promotion…even I don’t like me enough to keep up with all that.