Each night as we sit around the dinner table as a family, we go around the table and share the high and low point of our day. We call it “high and lows.” In teaching this to our daughter Kate, the terms high and low make no sense in her 3-year-old mind so we ask her, “What made you happy today?” and “What made you sad?”
In repeating this nightly ritual, I’ve come to realize, we’ve unintentionally taught Kate that “happy” things are better than “sad” things. And perhaps, unknowingly, we are also teaching her that it’s best to increase the amount of happy experiences in our life and decrease the sad. After all, that’s the principle on which our country was found, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
But is there something to be said about embracing sadness?
When people experience tragedy we expect them to grieve. It seems a bit strange if they don’t. But what about allowing yourselves to be sad when it’s triggered by something you see, hear or experience?
Now, before you stop reading or click over to another blog thinking this just took a depressing turn… take a look at this video.
In an interview, comedian Louis C.K. tells of a similar experience. (Quick disclaimer: If you go searching for Louis C.K. stuff on the internet as a result of reading this, note that he can be quite offensive.) In the interview he was talking about how we often distract ourselves from things we don’t want to experience and feel.
He went on to tell about a time he was driving in his car and a sad song came on the radio. He said as the song played he started to feel sad and instead of changing the station or turning it off, he pulled his car over and allowed himself to cry to the song. In the interview, he went on to say that profound joy is discovered after knowing deep sorrow. It’s through embracing the sadness, working through it and coming out on the other side where we discover true joy.
In the end, by distracting ourselves in moments where sadness creeps in, we end up living in this in between space where we never let ourselves feel sad, and as a result, never truly find deep joy.
So I finish by asking the questions again, is there something to be said about embracing sadness?
What do you think? Do either the video or the Louis C.K.’s comments resonate with you?