Stop Forcing Happiness and Embrace Your Blues!

College overall is a great time and once you’re done (take it from me), you will miss it terribly. The fact that you have all of your friends around you at all times, endless social opportunities, and things like paying rent or worrying about health insurance are not even on your radar yet add to the carefree fun.
That being said, life still just plain sucks sometimes. Whether you’re totally stressed about an upcoming presentation, feel like you haven’t slept in weeks cramming for finals, or are going through a painful breakup with the boy who lives down the hall, it’s inevitable that the blues will creep up on you at some point.
And according to a recent wave of scientists, you should not treat sadness like a horrible disease that needs to be taken care of immediately.
Eric Wilson, author of the new book, Against Happiness, argues that our culture has a fixation on happiness, and fosters “a craven disregard for the value of sadness” and “its integral place in the great rhythm of the cosmos.”
Okay, so the whole “rhythm of the cosmos” thing sounds a little odd, but hear me out.

After going through my recent breakup, everyone told me that I needed to go out and meet lots of people and have tons of fun. Which is all fine and great. But, for awhile, I just really didn’t feel like it. I would go out till all hours of the morning and end up drunk, exhausted, and more upset than I was to begin with. How was this helping me?
It wasn’t. So, I shifted my thinking on it and just did what I wanted to, no matter what that was. If I felt a bit down and wasn’t in the mood to have a crazy night out, I didn’t. I stayed in and read or watched a movie or hung out with a friend that was opting out of the night also. I talked about how I felt or just let myself feel melancholy without rushing out to somehow numb that feeling. And the progress I’ve made doing it this way instead of the old routine is amazing.
Wilson isn’t the only guy to come up with this theory fighting against our obsession with happiness. There are a number of researchers that have been looking into the actual value of sadness and there is a great article in Newsweek that details all of their findings.
My favorite explanation of this whole movement comes from a piece on “But like all emotions, melancholy has an evolutionary purpose, driving exploration and change,” it says.
I LOVE that idea. It is when you actually let yourself feel sadness or melancholy that you can then grow, change, and learn something.
Give it a shot, let me know how it goes, and remember, it can’t be any worse than that splitting headache you will feel the morning after trying to forget your sadness by drinking alcohol like it’s water.

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