27th Apr 2015 |
Appreciating Sad Days
Deciding to change a career is hard because it is not a decision at all – it is a process. Decisions can be made in an instant, like jumping off the side of a mountain. But processes are made up of hundreds and thousands of mini-decisions, taken deliberately in sequence, more like climbing the mountain.
This take energy and time. Deciding to research that company, meet that contact, re-write the CV, go to that talk – all of these matter in reinvention, and yet none will move you far in isolation. It is sustained commitment that counts.
Yet that’s hard because our habits – the fabric of our lives – drag us back. Inertia holds all the psychological aces.
Inevitably this means there will be days when we lack the energy and fight to keep moving forward. I remember there were days when I would feel overtaken by sadness, often on a Sunday afternoon, as I contemplated another working week. I felt stuck in a big, dark hole.
So what should we do on these sad days?
Society tells us we must reject sadness and fight it off. The drug companies provide pills to numb sadness and soothe its rawer edges. Advertisers sell us happiness as the ‘cure’ for sadness. Hell, even psychologists advise us we should be happy.
Yet my experience was that the more I struggled to get rid of my sadness, the more stuck I became. The more I tried to alleviate my sadness, the less I dealt with the underlying issues at the root of it. I just dug my hole deeper.
It took me years to understand that the best thing to do on sad days is to give up the struggle with it. Stop digging. The best thing to do on days like these – I am having one today – is rest awhile in sadness and appreciate the plain fact of human sorrow.
I found such value in simply recognising days when the best thing I could do is not make things worse. Or make one, tiny step forward. Then, when tomorrow came I had less distance to make up. One less thing to be done.
By giving up the struggle to get rid of sadness, I also learned to appreciate its message. Sadness tells us not just what we’ve lost but what we value. The memory of sad days acts as the soil from which new directions grow.
If something could grow from your sadness, what could that be?
Photo by Matthias Haltenhof: www.matthiashaltenhof.de/portfolio/