How Giving Into Sadness Can Actually Make You Happier
Two years ago, I moved from New York to LA for three months, and I remember feeling so excited to finally escape the dreary weather and the grumpy attitudes of the East Coast.
I had every intention of leaving nine years in NYC behind me for good as I packed up my bags and drove across the country with my dog, Alabama.
But, a funny thing happened when I arrived in The City of Angels.
All that sunshine, Vitamin D and those positive people with their positive vibes and their healthy lifestyles really bummed me the fuck out.
And the worst part of my bad mood was, there was no place for it in my new city.
Nobody wanted to hear about my existential angst or how I felt so out of place in a city that just seemed too "cheery" for someone like me.
West Coasters don't relate to negativity. Or if they do, they won't admit it.
But what is the cost of this stubborn, forced positivity?
It can't be healthy, and in some cases, these perpetually positive people seem actually unhinged.
And science backs me up here.
An article from Scientific American cited a 2001 study of elderly communities, stating,
[P]essimists were less prone to depression than were optimists after experiencing negative life events, such as the death of a friend. The pessimists had likely spent more time bracing themselves mentally for unpleasant possibilities.
Basically, pessimists are woke AF and understand life isn't supposed to be one big, magical SoulCycle class filled with wheatgrass shots and perfectly blown-out "beach waves."
They realize sadness, loss and disappointment are all part of the human experience, and embracing those "bad" emotions can lead to something better.
I like to think of my feelings as water moving through a hose.
If I fold it in half, it all builds up until the pressure becomes too much and explodes all over the place.
But if I allow everything to move through me, it contributes to a simple but valuable lesson: feelings pass.
They don't last forever. They are not meant to be feared; they're meant to be experienced.
Sadness is a valid and valuable human emotion.
Sadness can inform the choices you make and prevent you from making the same mistakes over and over again in an attempt to somehow "win" against it.
By allowing yourself to experience your feelings — all of them — you'll find that your "negative" emotions inform your life and allow you to make choices that make you happier.
As far as life in LA went, I (obviously) decided to move back to New York, and it ended up being the best decision I could've made.
It made me realize a life spent on the East Coast makes being a grumpy cunt your birthright.
The minute I returned to New York City, I discovered the kinds of people I love the most are the ones who aren't afraid to be their naturally pessimistic selves.
There is something inherently comforting about not judging your emotions as either negative or positive.
It gives your feelings less power over you when they aren't labeled as forbidden or shameful.
And I may not be the greatest person to be around all the time if you're looking for a motivational speaker, but that's why Tony Robbins exists.
I am the friend who says, "go ahead and fall apart" when you need to.
That's because I think breaking down and feeling everything is just as — if not more — helpful than trying to change the way you organically feel.