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Tanashia Boon Professor Susan Lago ENG- 1100 College Writing September 26, 2013 The Pursuit of Sadness

Most people would think that life without sadness, pain, or grief would be a great thing. Sadness is believed to only cause turmoil in our lives. So why do we need it? In reality, we need these hardships just as much as we need the air we breathe. Experiencing sadness can help us to realize our own strength in a way that happiness cannot. Senior concludes her interview with Martin Seligman, a founder of happiness studies and psychologist of the University of Pennsylvania, with the statement, You have to be optimistic enough to get voters to vote for you, but you have to be pessimistic enough to do serious, great stuff. (Senior 430) I received a happiness score of 3.24 on the Authentic Happiness Quiz. I am pleased with this score because I know that too much happiness or sadness would actually be harmful. Similarly to the Yin and Yang theory, we need sadness in order to balance the happiness in our lives. There seems to be a huge emphasis placed on happiness in todays society. In the constitution, we find the pursuit of happiness listed as one of our unalienable rights. The constitution and even the title of the Authentic Happiness Quiz implies a strong need for us to be happy. I felt myself asking why does society strives so much for happiness. In order to fully grow as individuals and even as a nation, we need sadness. Without it, we wont have power to

overcome the bad days that may be lurking. It is only after facing some hardships like 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina that we learned just how strong, we as a nation really are. It is only after going through a break up or loss of a loved one, that we realize our own strength. By emphasizing extreme happiness, we lose the ability to connect with one another. By overcoming sadness, we learn to become more empathetic and compassionate to others. Sadness can bring people together like no other emotion can. If a loved one is experiences sadness due to loss of a job or loved one, he or she will need someone to turn to for comfort and support. Without facing your own personal sadness, you will not be able to empathize with this loved one. You will only be able to offer them empty promises of it will get better soons without anything to back it up. When experiencing sadness, sometimes the most healing thing we can do is remind ourselves that we are not alone and that others feel the same way. Sadness is not an easy thing to deal with, but we find solace in knowing that there are others who have also experienced some sort of sadness. Knowing this, we have learned to comfort those who are going through what we have been through. By having the courage to go face our pain and suffering, we have the ability to grow stronger. When my father passed away, I did not want to face the deep sadness of losing him. For many years, I thought not coping with this sadness would make life easier. It wasnt until I was able to confront these feelings of sadness and grief that I was able to move on. I was only about 8 years old at the time, but I learned that by allowing myself to become vulnerable, I was actually empowering myself. Through sadness, I have come to realize my own strength.

In Some Dark Thoughts on Happiness, Jennifer Senior mentions a surprising result she discovered from a study in Barry Schwartzs The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. In this study, it was discovered that, two groups of men given colonoscopies, although it extended the exam time, reported less discomfort if the instrument sat in place for a few seconds after the exam. It was said to lessen the pain in the final moment. Senior states apparently, we define and remember our experiences by their highs, lows, and how they end. (Senior 425) Sadness in an important aspect of our lives, because it gives us exactly what we need from life: highs and lows. What most people need to understand about sadness is that it comes and goes. It is unavoidable part of our existence. We can either embrace it or run from it. We ha constitution ve the ability to gain so much from sadness that would not be possible with happiness. And in the end, were made stronger because of it.

Work Cited

Senior, Jennifer. Some Dark Thoughts on Happiness. Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum: Twelfth Edition. Laurence Behrens & Leonard J. Rosen. New York: Longman, 2012. 423-430.