Sadness is not usually valued in our current culture. Self-help books promote the benefits of positive thinking, positive attitude, and positive behaviors, labeling sadness as a “problem emotion” that needs to be kept at bay or eliminated.
Sadness can improve interactions, in some cases. In general, happiness increases positive interactions between people. Happy people are more poised, assertive, and skillful communicators; they smile more, and they are generally perceived as more likable than sad people.
However, in situations where a more cautious, less assertive and more attentive communication style may be called for, a sad mood may help. In one study, participants who first viewed happy or sad films were unexpectedly asked to go and request a file from a person in a neighboring office. Their requests were surreptitiously recorded by a concealed tape recorder. Analyses showed that the sad mood produced more polite, elaborate, and hedging requests, whereas those in a happy mood used more direct and less polite strategies.
Sadness can fill us with appreciation for the good we've lost. It can help us treasure the good we haven't. It can make us more tender. It can make us more empathetic and compassionate toward others who've gone through or are going through what we are. It can connect us to others by signalling we need their support. It can incline us to give support to others who've supported us. It can fill us with appreciation for the times we don't feel sad.
Even though your judgment may be more reliable, you won't be as quick to judge others. Researchers believe this is because sadness may trigger something in the part of the brain that makes people more civil and understanding. You'll be a lot more comfortable off that high horse this way.
Although we're giving positive facts to take away from being down and out, which range from being more appreciative to having better judgement, there are other ways to cope with sadness directly, like a girls' night, filled with binge eating pizza and cheap wine. So meanwhile, give that a shot—it's a lot healthier and much more fun than uncorking the wine alone.
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