“As such, Forgas notes, it can be self-defeating to spend one’s time in the unrelenting pursuit of giddy levels of euphoria. ~ Dr. Douglas T. Kenrick
Dr. Douglas T. Kenrick, professor of social psychology at Arizona State University, has recently written an article for online Psychology Today about the bright side of sadness. It is a brief overview of the research done by Joe Forgas, who has come up with some very surprising and counterintuitive results on the effect of passing sadness.
In a nutshell, Forgas has established that negative moods can produce improved memory, more accurate judgments, reduced gullibility, reduced stereotyping, motivational benefits, increased politeness, and increased fairness.
Dr. Kenrick sums up these points in his article before rounding them off with a very apt op-ed commentary, putting them in context. One thing he notes is that “these findings involve mild everyday negative moods, not intense, prolonged, and debilitating clinical levels of depression.”
Good to know.
The other point Kenrick makes is that mild and passing sadness is not a bad thing, and neither is a bad mood. It may in fact be a valuable sign, feedback from the unconscious mind that one needs to take a break and rethink a situation; embrace its message and act on it. No need to beat it away with medication, or wallow in self-defeating guilt. No need to smile all the time, trying to make amends for it.
I added that last part, about the smile. It seems to fit. We live in the ‘smile or die‘ era, after all. We are expected to be happy, and to want to be happy, or cheerful, or agreeable, or positive, all the time.
Funny way to acquire well-being!
Thank goodness for Forgas’s and Kenrick’s insights. They add some much-needed common sense to the process.
This article was originally published in Urban Times