Tag Archives: sadness

The Blessing of Sadness

By Don Arnoudse

For as long as I can remember, I have been an optimistic person. I’ve always taken great pride in my natural inclination to see a ‘silver lining in every cloud’. ‘Making lemonade out of lemons’ was one of my favorite clichés. Imagine my surprise when, in a recent conversation with Ann, my personal coach, I heard her say she felt a deep shiver of sadness while listening to me. It brought me up short. I had been talking about turning 59 years old, how good life was right now and, at the same time, how acutely aware I was of how fast time was flying by. When I stopped, took a deep breath, and listened to my body, I realized that deep down there was a pool of sadness within me. This is an emotion I’ve kept at bay for a long time. I’ve learned in my work with Julio Olalla at the Newfield Network that sadness is not something to be avoided. Contrary to what our culture would have us believe, it is a valuable emotion—one that reminds us of what we truly value. When we mourn the loss of someone or something, we are brought up close and personal to that which truly makes our life worthwhile.  I’ve decided to ‘practice’ sadness. To let it in, rather than deflect it. I am beginning to understand the gift it is. In great sadness, we have a profound opportunity to take another look at our life and make course corrections. Ironically, sadness can also give us access to gratitude. Sadness points us to what we must accept in life in order to achieve real peace. From now on, whenever I feel a glimmer of sadness, I intend to sink into it a bit before moving on with my busy life. I feel sad about a number of things even now… My father died last October. I felt initially overwhelmed with sadness and then, in my eulogy of him, I was so grateful for the many things I had learned from this modest man. My two children are 21 and 22. I am sad for the many mistakes I now see I made as a parent. As they create their independent lives, I am sad for the distance between us. I am so grateful for them in my life and I so value my relationship with them. My sadness points out my need to accept that I did the best I knew how to do at the time and reveals my commitment to love them for the rest of my life. I am increasingly aware of my mortality. I do the ‘life math’ and am sad that I won’t have as much time as I would like. My sadness points out how much I love life, my fascination with so many things, and the eagerness with which I live most of my days. What a blessing! I am sad for my friends who have already died. I miss them and I am so grateful for the contributions they made to who I am today. I pledge anew to make time for the friends I have today. I am sad for the state of the world we inhabit. War, hunger, poverty, the environment, terrorism, racism, greed and exploitation of the powerless and all the other seemingly intractable problems sometimes seem so overwhelming. I am glad I no longer live with my ‘head in the sand’, naively seeing only the bright side. I commit to engaging with the world, not hiding in fear. As I hear the life stories of my coaching clients, I practice letting myself simply be with their sadness for losses they have suffered. Rather than try to cheer them up right away, I acknowledge and am grateful for the connection this allows me to have with them. I am grateful for the shared journey we are on and for the trust they have in me that allows them to communicate their pain. I yearn for peace at this point in my life. My sadness gives me clues to what I must learn to accept to find that peace. I accept that I am a human being who makes mistakes. I have a dark side. I sometimes let people down, even those I most love. I sometimes betray my own values. I procrastinate on important things. I backslide on resolutions I have made. And these are all things that make me who I am. These are the struggles that have shaped my character and remind me of what I prize in life. My wounds have given me compassion for others. My failures have allowed me to appreciate success and the value of continuing to show up and give things my best shot. My tears allow me to get close, to drop my mask and be intimately connected with others.  So, when you see me with tears in my eyes, please don’t try to cheer me up. Be grateful, along with me, for the blessing of sadness. read more

Riverboats and Bone Yards V

By Stu Whitley

This is the fifth post in a five-part series.

Is there any joy to be found in sadness? I believe there is.

Sadness is almost always about loss. If we are able to examine in a
serious way the nature of that loss, I think we would find a validation
of what we took to be good. In other words, sadness can be a
reaffirmation of the virtues we hold dear. This can be a bit tricky
though. For example, if one regrets the passage of youth for its own
sake, enormous and ultimately futile effort is needed to ignore the

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