Could happiness possibly come from sadness?

Could happiness possibly come from sadness?

Some authors, including Kay Redfield Jamison, think there is more to depression than negativity. How can sadness be of any possible benefit? In the following article, Timothy T.C. So discusses the positive side of sadness.

The emphasis of positive psychology on building the best things in life and making people_ã_s lives fulfilling does not imply that we should ignore problems or dismiss the negative emotions that people experience.

Positive psychology can make an additional contribution by offering rigorous and creative scientific work on how negative emotions can be good for humans.

In this article, I kick an ongoing discussion of the benefits of negative emotions by introducing some insightful experiments conducted by Joe Forgas, an Australian psychologist.

_ãÄAll emotions have adaptive benefits._ã_ Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

Considerable research by scholars such as Nobel Prize winning psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, has demonstrated that our emotions (both negative and positive) influence our judgments and memories.

However, while most research talks about how we should overcome sadness to make better judgments, why don_ã_t we look into how sadness can be beneficial? Research by Forgas suggests that sadness can be beneficial at individual level and interpersonal levels, at least in four ways.

Sadness draws better attention

In series of research studies, Forgas asked customers of a gift shop how many out-of-place items they could remember. For better manipulation of participants_ã_ mood, data was collected on seven sunny days and seven miserable cloudy days, while joyful music was played on the sunny days and grey music played on cloudy days.

Forgas found that a slight variation in mood would affect shoppers_ã_ attention and recall of objects and yes, sadness beats happiness. On the gloomy days, shoppers were likely to report themselves a little sadder, while they also tended to recall what was on the shop counter more accurately. This extra attention might also act as a psychological deterrent from making mistakes.

Sadness leads to more convincing persuasions

Forgas has conducted other research with happy and sad volunteers making persuasive arguments for or against certain policies. Their arguments were then rated by independent undergraduate students and scientists. Sad participants tended to produce more convincing arguments in more concrete and systematic styles.

With other variables controlled, this research suggested that the attention to new information in the outside world when people are sad would promote more concrete and factual thinking and result in generating more persuasive messages.

…so if sadness has all these potential benefits could it possibly have a positive side? And if sadness has a positive side could it then, in principle, contribute to happiness? Read the complete and original article – just click here