I’m a sun lover. I worship the sun. It makes me happy, makes me feel upbeat and repairs my soul. I remember when I lived in Spain though, that after 4 months of continuous dry sunshine we were all looking forward to the prospect of rain. There’s something quite refreshing about a thunderstorm. How the stuffy air feels before it reaches an electric peak, before the rain falls and purifies everything. How the thunder and lightning creates a calming sensation afterwards that allows you to feel like you can breathe again.
I love to be happy and calm and relaxed. It keeps me motivated and active but like the sunshine it can’t last forever without something giving. As our emotional dustbins slowly fill up, sometimes they need to be emptied and it’s better to do this before they overflow and start affecting our happiness. The same way that we embrace the thunderstorm after enjoying the sunshine, sometimes it’s healthy to enjoy the therapeutic effects that an emptying of the emotional rubbish bin can bring. Sometimes it’s helpful to embrace the sadness in order to promote the happiness.
When I feel like things are preventing my happiness despite my best efforts, I call on my Ace card and embrace the purging of all of my negative emotions. How do I do this? I watch a film that I know will make me cry. Whether it’s the “Green Mile”, “Love Actually” (only at Christmas I hear you scream!) or the “Pursuit of Happyness”, I put on a film, which I know is going to cause my emotional floodgates to open and for the deluge of tears to fall. The cathartic effects of film has been recognised for years and played on since the inception of the ‘Talkie’. Embrace the sadness of the story. Embrace the soundtrack and the crescendo of emotion it stirs. Most importantly though, embrace the rain to fall like the loudest and fiercest thunderstorm and enjoy the calming feelings of relief afterwards.
In 2015, researchers from the University of Tilburg in the Netherlands made 60 people watch emotionally charged movies. Not everyone was affected and not everyone shed tears. But for those who did, even though they felt sad at the end of the films, shortly afterwards their spirits lifted and overall 90 minutes later, they actually felt better than before the film. And tears aren’t just a way to release emotions. Biochemist Dr. William Frey from Minneapolis, discovered that emotional tears are a way of shedding stress hormones and other toxins which accumulate during stress. You can read about his research and other benefits of tears in this article by American physician Judith Orloff. She writes, “Typically, after crying, our breathing and heart rate can decrease, and we enter into a calmer biological and emotional state.”
So, embrace the positivity that comes from making your sad emotions work to your benefit. When you find yourself constantly ready to blow or feel the slightest of things starting to eat away at you, especially when they would normally be like water off a duck’s back, maybe it’s time to reach for the DVDs and grab your popcorn and tissues. Maybe it’s time to purge the emotional dustbin, bring forth the saltwater, embrace the sadness and promote the happiness.
Namasté my friends.