Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It’s OK to be SAD!

About two years ago I was given a book titled “Happy for no reason” by Marci Shimoff. It went on to become a best seller and sold over 25 million copies. Happiness has become a rather serious subject and I must admit that I too have joined the bandwagon of happiness researchers and am a huge proponent of Positive Psychology (the legitimate child of positive thinking). I have been researching, practicing and preaching happiness for the last 5 years and have looked into pretty much every aspect of positivity and happiness. Having delved into the psychological, the spiritual, the philosophical, the scientific and the inexplicable new age theories, I thought I had covered every aspect of “Happiness”.

But yesterday try as I might I could not feel happy, and then I realized that this was not the first time I was experiencing such emotions.

I thought to myself could I be Sad for no reason?

I woke up feeling rather down. I felt that I was wasting my life and not really striving hard enough to reach my not yet defined goals! I felt like a failure and wondered if I would ever follow through on my desires and commitments. I wondered if I was all talk and no action and one negative thought led to another.

I started to question my role as a mother and a wife. I started looking for reasons that made me feel that I was not being a good wife or a good mother and then of course I started to wonder if it was my husband who was in the wrong. All possible explanations and justifications started to hone into my psyche.

Next I knew, I was crying and missing my deceased parents and lamenting over lost loves and lost opportunities. This was getting pretty serious.

All my years of search for happiness had come to naught.

I don’t know what inspired me to do what I did, but it seemed to have worked wonders. I shared my sad status on face book and within a few minutes there were amazing messages sending me hugs, smiles, love and encouraging me and complimenting me on my achievements. I suddenly started to feel better and felt loved and appreciated. Many shared their own experiences and made me realize that it was OK to be Sad. After all I was human and well within the confines of sanity.

All at once I was being reminded of all the things that I had been suggesting for the past few years on how to get out of a funk and pull oneself out of sadness. Although I had no major underlying cause to make me sad, I was still feeling pretty miserable. I somehow could not bring myself to practice what I had been preaching.

This was a huge reality check. Here I was with no major issues and still feeling sorry for myself. What if there really was a major reason for my sadness; such as hearing about a life threatening illness, losing a loved one, being fired from a job and having kids to feed, and so on… …Would positive thinking still help?

I seriously doubt that thinking and denying the reality of a painful situation would make the problem go away.

So, what is one to do?

Should we keep going down the abyss of sadness and pain and allow it to expand or try and nip it in the bud? Should we go into denial and paint a rosy picture and refuse to face reality?

I could not come up with an answer, so I decided to go for a walk instead.

I picked up my iPod, put on my headphones, turned the volume really loud and started to walk. About 15 minutes later I was feeling a bit clear headed. Then I saw a group of gardeners beautifying a roundabout. They were diligently de-weeding the garden. I stood there watching. I saw them take out the weeds, prune the flowers, put in the fertilizer and move on to the next patch. What was interesting was that the maximum time was spent de weeding! Apparently, gardening is five percent planting; 10 percent watering, fertilizing and pruning; and 75 percent fighting weeds.

Isn’t that interesting?

Even nature needs help to sustain its beauty and perfection. If allowed to run rampant weeds would take over and we would not see the wonderful flowers bloom.

There was my answer.

Of course, one cannot deny the existence of sad events. Things will go wrong from time to time. Life is not a bed of roses; it comes with its thorns and weeds. Just as a beautiful rose is accompanied by spiky thorns, life comes forth with its ups and downs.

Just as a gardener spends 75 percent of his/her time de –weeding, it becomes our responsibility to de-weed and prune the garden of our thoughts.

So getting back to my original question; Is it OK to be Sad?

Of course it is OK to be sad; we would not be human if we did not experience the rainbow of emotions. What is not OK is to allow the sad/negative thoughts to run amok and take over our lives. Often we keep over analyzing a situation instead of accepting and then facing it with courage and determination.

Sadness just like happiness is a part of our reality and will appear from time to time. What we need to be aware of is how to keep it in check and how to de-weed it from our thoughts?
So de-weed your mental garden often.

A few suggestions that worked for me

Share your sadness and be ready to take help if offered….. ( thank you facebook and Myspace)

Indulge in some sort of Physical activity preferably something you enjoy.

Listen to your favorite music….

Get a foot or a head massage, better if you can use some uplifting aroma oil

Start writing or thinking of all the wonderful things that are still around. Force yourself to come up with at least 3….

Go on a rampage of appreciation. Start listing everything that is going well in your life……

If you have children, play with them….

Go to your wardrobe and pick out something that makes you look good, wear it and admire yourself in the mirror….

Get a hair style change…..

Drink lots of water and eat a banana….

Go on feel sad, but remember to not stay sad for too long, lest the de-weeding becomes too hard.


Shveita Sethi Sharma.