Welcome to a six part series where each week we will talk about the upside of what are generally referred to as negative emotions. These are emotions that are uncomfortable, that we attempt to deny and avoid at all costs. Yet as humans we cannot live in a state of constant bliss. And believe it or not, these negative emotions, in moderation, can actually be positive, they serve a purpose and have a function. So we are going to explore these various emotions rather than run and hide under the covers.

Let’s start with sadness.

Sadness can lead to growth and change. If you feel sad after not achieving a certain goal, you will be more likely to take charge and work harder towards that goal to alleviate the sadness.

Sadness can lead to greater involvement in our community, society, and world. A family member is diagnosed with breast cancer and we become more involved in outreach and fundraising, running a 5-k or making a monetary donation for research.

Sadness can help us appreciate what we do have in our lives. When we experience a death, for example, we step back and focus on cherishing and appreciating those important in our lives, rather than sweating the small stuff. Without sadness, we would not reach for the silver lining.

Sadness helps build empathy and compassion for others who have or are experiencing what we are experiencing. Through such connection to others, we become more kind, gentle, and understanding.

Sadness helps us feel better. It is cathartic. It heals us. A good cry can cure many ills. Without sadness, we could not process difficulties, challenges, or losses and move forward.

Sadness signals to others that we need help and support. And that support can help us overcome the sadness. Since humans have not evolved into mind readers, nonverbal communication such as crying or being quiet and withdrawn helps to elicit a listening ear from family or a hug from a friend.

“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose it’s meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.” Carl Jung