Why is this the emotion that seems to resonate with us most?
If I were in a room full of people and asked who can remember a time when they felt overwhelmingly happy, not everyone would be able to relate. However, if I were to ask who’s felt deeply sad, I’m certain that every single person would say that they have at some point — and likely on multiple occasions.
Not just regular sadness either. I mean having those days where just getting out of bed is an accomplishment. Because we know that the longer we stay there, the less of the day we’ll have to face. Those days where you can still function, go to work for eight hours and impersonate a productive member of society, but it’s all you can muster. Anything additional and possibly even those eight hours feel like a monumental chore. Your energy is just low. Your muse hasn’t bothered speaking to you in a while, or perhaps you’ve shut it out. Sadness resides in the place it once occupied. Sadness resides in every space, and in those moments it’s all you can feel.
Why does sadness seem to resonate with us most? It stays with us when all other emotions are fleeting. We can ride a high of happiness after achieving a goal or having a life-changing experience, such as having a child. And we’ll always think fondly of that day and event, but the feeling of being overjoyed eventually subsides.
Fear usually dissipates along with its source, unless the situation was especially traumatic. But if it’s a scenario such as being chased by a dog, once we’ve made it to safety we’re no longer afraid. Even when very angry at someone or about something, we will eventually calm down. We’re rarely just as angry after a couple of days have passed.
Sadness maintains its intensity for days, weeks and sometimes longer. It lingers, often long after whatever made us sad in the first place. I’d compare it to love as an emotion that stays with us, but love is much more than that. It involves a relationship, a bond and is something that builds over time.
Sadness just is. We don’t have to nurture it or wait for it grow. It doesn’t take some monumental personal event to cause it either. We can be sad about the state of the world, something we saw on the news, or nothing in particular at all.
Sadness is often inexplicable and unpredictable. Yet, it hurts like hell. It can consume us, be mentally and emotionally draining, and even leave a nasty internal scar. So, we remember it. We also don’t want to feel it. We spend time and money on books, seminars and videos in hopes that we can learn how to not feel so sad. That business is booming.
Some of it can absolutely be perspective. We tend to accentuate the negative in our lives and it overshadows the good. Sometimes we search for reasons to be unhappy because it just feels more natural. No one has ever been tired of feeling joy though, or needed help coming back down to “normalcy.” It just doesn’t grip us the same way. People bond over sadness.
With often no identifiable cause or cure, sadness is an emotional phenomenon that embeds so deeply within our souls that it is unforgettable. It can make us feel as though our lives are filled with sadness, with only bits of joy sprinkled here and there. Even if that is not the case.
This is why, in a room full of people, all would identify with deep sadness — while only some could say they’ve encountered the alternative.