How Can We Turn Sadness Into Constructive Action?

Sadness is paralyzing. And there are so many problems we face, including problems of great depth and wide variety, that sadness is almost inevitable.

The scope of issues like climate change or political corruption are so large that it seems like one person cannot make a difference.

On top of that, some issues can be downright heartbreaking. Seeing images or video of suffering refugee children, or abused animals in pain, is difficult. Entire towns have been destroyed following hurricanes, earthquakes, or wildfires, which is unspeakably sad.

When thinking about these and other obstacles we face, the urge to curl up under a blanket can be tremendous.

And yet, these problems call for action. Devastated towns need to be rebuilt. Injustice needs to be confronted. Sickness needs to be treated or cured.

Can these disparate realities be reconciled? Can we keep from being overwhelmed by despair, to do what needs to be done to make the world a better place for all of us?

How can we turn sadness into constructive action?

Related questions: How can we turn ideas into actions? Why do we put up with unhappiness? When do you need inspiration? How can you help? Is it a cruel world?

 

What Is The Right Amount Of Emotion?

Emotion can be good; emotion can be bad.

Being emotional is what makes life worth living. The happiness you feel in the presence of a loved one. The satisfaction of a job well done. The beauty of nature. The awe-inspiring stars on a clear night.

All of these experiences are dependent on emotion. You can be inspired, feel joy, suffer from heartache. Without feelings, life would be dull and uninteresting.

And yet, emotion can also lead us astray. Being passionate can blind you to a necessary choice. Grief can overcome you and lead to depression. Extreme feelings can make you easier to manipulate.

It’s not about “good” feelings, like love and joy, vs “bad” feelings, like anger and fear. You will experience negative emotions over the course of your life. It is not practical to pretend they don’t exist. Negative or bad emotions are just as much of a fully-realized emotional life as positive ones are.

No, the real trade-off is between emotion and logic. Logic might help make better decisions, but feelings give flavor to existence. There must be a middle ground. It is important to balance some emotion with some reason.

But how can you find the right balance? How can you make the most of your feelings and fully live your life, but also make rational decisions and think analytically?

What is the right amount of emotion? How can you tell if you have too much? What mechanisms allow you to increase or decrease the emotion you feel every day?

Related questions: Why does music evoke emotion? What is necessary to change your mind? What do you do that you shouldn’t? How does creative expression help us to know ourselves better?

Why Do We Hate?

The Internet brings out the worst in some people. There seems to be an increased level of hate that is spread online, from vicious comments, to cyber-bullying, to harassment.

While the Internet is making it easy for people to give voice to their hatred, the negative emotion is not new. It has existed from the dawn of humanity.

In the real world, we see it across the globe. Wars rage on. Oppression of a group, whether it is ethnic, religious, or racial, is rampant.

But why should hatred be as common as it is? Much of the world’s population follows some religion, and most religions preach love. But people who claim they are religious can be — and sometimes are —  filled with hate.

“Hate” is a strong word, indicating a strong emotion. As with any strong emotion, thinking about and discussing it can be difficult. Have you ever hated someone or something? If so, what triggered it?

Of course, it is possible to experience hatred without realizing it. What you recognize as hatred in someone else they might deny or call a different emotion or expression. And the same is true in reverse: what you think is acceptable behavior, someone else might call hate.

Hate makes us behave in unpredictable or irrational ways, and it can cause a person to behave very cruelly to another. It would behoove us to love more and hate less in all aspects of our life. A good way to start is to understand what the roots are of this destructive emotion.

Why do we hate? And how can we stop?

Related questions: Why do we like what we like? How does your vocabulary influence how you think? What do you do that you shouldn’t? How can we encourage debate? What words have the most power?