6 Advantages of Sadness

With the overwhelming low moods resulting from unfulfilled dreams, lack of friends, loss of loved ones, season changes and breakups; a variety of psychologists and social scientists claim there are some unappreciated mental and social perks to sadness.

Being sad from time to time has purposefully been helping humanity to survive.

We usually consider sadness as an unpleasant state, and majority of us device several ways in defeating our low moods by building around us, massive happy walls which always come crashing. Surprisingly, the feeling of sadness which often force people to regret their existence, is full of benefits that are sometime hard to understand.

Thanks to scientific studies that confirm negative emotions, like sadness, fear, anger, disgust and mindlessness as part of our survival system.

[blockquote align=”none” author=”Joseph Forgas, Psychologist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney”]Bad moods are seen in our happiness-focused cultures as representing a problem, but we need to be aware that temporary, mild negative feelings have important benefits. [/blockquote]

Note: Sadness is clearly different from depression, I hereby suggest anyone having it should seek for help. This article is solely to let people embrace the feeling of sadness as a force for good instead of evil.

These findings may not be directly the keys to happiness which is desirable and preferable in many situations, but they show that sadness has some adaptive functions that are more advantageous than we think.

Sadness can improve judgment.

Due to biases, people are more likely to make social misjudgment when they are happy.

Findings show that negative mood can improve the accuracy of impression formation judgments, by promoting a more detailed and attentive thinking style.

According to a study in which participants were asked to detect deception in videotaped statements of people accused of theft, findings show that participants in sad mood were better than those in happy mood at distinguishing between deceptive and truthful suspects.

[blockquote align=”none” author=”Forgas”]Sad moods reduce other common judgmental biases. Such as “the fundamental attribution error,” in which people attribute intentionality to others’ behavior while  ignoring situational factors, and the “halo effect,” where judges tend to assume a person having some positive feature—such as a handsome face—is likely to have others, such as kindness or intelligence.[/blockquote]

Anxiety makes you a problem-solver.

With the help of the automatic “fight or flight” response which is natural to all humans, anxiety helps us quickly discover solutions to dangerous problems, such as escaping a dangerous zone. This automatic response which is related to anxiety quickly tells us to either fight or run.

Anxiety will rule over positive thinking, says psychologist Todd Kashdan, the author of ‘The Upside of Your Dark Side.’ 

According to the Texas’ UT Counselling and Mental Health Center, the fight or flight response quickly allow your body to metabolize a lot of energy in order to act quickly in dangerous situations.

When the threat is perceived, the nervous system automatically puts the body on alert via the help of the stress hormones released by the adrenal cortext. Finally, the muscles are fed with oxygenated blood.

Anger Helps Mend Conflict.

While explaining the relationship between anger and aggression, Howard Kassinove, PhD, co-author of the book ‘Anger Management: The Complete Treatment Guidebook for Practice,’ says “In fact, anger seems to be followed by aggression only about 10 percent of the time, and lots of aggression occurs without any anger.”

[blockquote align=”none” author=”Kassinove”]While assertive expression is always preferable to angry expression, anger may serve an important alerting function that leads to deeper understanding of the other person and the problem,[/blockquote]

Read also: The Common Painkiller that Kills Empathy

Previous studies on social behavior and personality show that, anger has been helpful in fixing problems and fostering a greater understanding in relationships. Anger is also believe to always trigger an approach that would address the wrongdoings that instigated your anger.

Sadness Evoke Better Manners.

In situations where less assertive, more cautious and more attentive communication style are needed; studies confirm that people in sad mood produced more polite, conviction and evading request when compared to those in happy moods.

[blockquote align=”none” author=”Forgas “]Sad people are more focused on external cues and will not rely solely on their first impressions, which happy people are more inclined to trust. [/blockquote]

It Improves Short-term Memory.

Being in a low mood is also linked to a better memory and improved attention. Forgas and his research team found that in any unpleasant time, especially during the raining days, people tend to have a better recollection of what they came across earlier in the day, but have a less accurate memory during the sunny days.

Guilt helps our Moral Compass.

[blockquote align=”none” author=”Kashdan”]adults prone to feeling guilty were less likely to drunk drive, steal, use illegal drugs, or assault another person.[/blockquote]

When we do something wrong, a nagging feeling (Moral Compass) sets in to re-awake our essential need to be a better person.

The feeling of guilt is our brain’s way of letting us know we’ve gone beyond morality.

Read also: 5 Disadvantages of Being Highly Intelligent

References and Further Readings:
CMHC-  Stress Management and Reduction: Fight or Flight.

Michal Reifen Tagar: The positive effect of negative emotions in protracted conflict: The case of anger. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 47, Issue 1, January 2011, Pages 157–164.

Alexia Lafata: Elitedaily - 7 Negative Emotions That Actually Have Really Positive Effects On Your Life.

Joseph P. Forgas: GreaterGood - University of Carlifornia, Berkeley: Four Ways Sadness May Be Good for You.

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