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Humans are highly evolved problem solvers. No sooner do we experience a negative emotion than we feel compelled to fix it. Usually that urge goes with the assumption that there’s something wrong with us for feeling blue, which only compounds the depression.

Another problem is that by trying to think our way out of sadness, we paradoxically fuel it. “The more you fuel these downward cycles with attention, the more you allow them to proliferate,” says Zindel Segal. “The negative ideas and experiences will just multiply, spinning from one thing to two things to four things to eight things.” Instead, he suggests accepting your sadness as a natural state, experiencing it in the moment, and allowing it to pass. This doesn’t mean letting yourself slide passively into a deeper slump but, rather, engaging with your feelings in a mindful way.

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Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the same well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

~ Kahlil Gibran

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