JOYkwondo

The Martial Art of Joy

Day 21: It’s OK to be Sad, Just Don’t Stay There

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

— Albus Dumbledore

Trying to ignore your negative emotions is the worst thing you can do to get past them. Sure, it might come with temporary comfort, but pretending problems don’t exist only delays the inevitable. No matter how hard you try, you can’t run and hide from your feelings forever. To move forward, you need to feel the emotions and understand why you’re feeling down in the first place. Let the tears flow. How long has it been since you’ve had a good cry? It may feel like a sign of weakness, but dealing with your emotions actually takes a lot of guts and vulnerability. Instead of running from it, be still and soak in it. The sooner you confront your past, the sooner you can move forward into a better future. Letting it all out will actually help you to let go of your hurt and live a happy life.

Besides, releasing your tears helps you flush out toxins. Tears that are provoked by stress actually help your body rid itself of nasty chemicals that raise the stress hormone, cortisol. So you’ll feel a whole lot better physically once you cry out all that poison. A study performed at the University of Florida found that crying is more effective than any antidepressant on the market. A good cry improved the mood of almost 90% of those who were studied, leaving only 10% reporting that crying made them feel worse.

Expressing your hurt can also help others who are going through the same thing. Your public exploration and acceptance of your personal pain can actually inspire others to do the same. I bet there are a lot of other people who know exactly how you feel, and they would be so appreciative of your understanding. It may look like the opposite of JOYkwondo, but it isn’t. It’s simply a darker form of it. People may not always be able to relate to someone who’s just happy all the time. They can, however, be inspired by someone who has pain but finds their way back to the light and overcomes.

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Training Exercise

What are some negative emotions that have been nagging at you lately? What’s trying to bring you down? Today, instead of turning away from it and ignoring the negative emotions, I want you to treat them to 5 minutes of undivided attention. That’s right! You know when you’re trying to get someone’s attention by calling their name over and over again until they finally turn around and say “OK! Fine! What do you want!? I’m HERE!!” That’s what you get to do with those nagging, persistent thoughts.

Set a timer. Preferably something with a loud bell that’ll snap you out of it when it’s time. This will give you a safe, controlled time to explore your sadness without committing to it. Five minutes may not seem like a lot, but have you ever tried focusing on ONE thing, and NOTHING else, for an entire five minutes? It feels like an eternity.

Take these five minutes and explore those thoughts and feelings. Be curious! Where are they coming from? Why are they always there? What’s triggering them? Is there a solution that you’re avoiding for some reason? Are you grieving something? Have you allowed yourself time to heal? Face it. Focus on it. Dig down way deep and enjoy some good old fashioned wallowing.

If this is a time you’d like to remember in the future as part of your joy journey, then go ahead and write your thoughts down. Write your questions and the answers you’ve come up with. Tell if the experience helped your troubles become less scary. Were five minutes enough? You’re also welcome to share whatever you’d like about this in the comments section below. Don’t be afraid to get deep with us. You’re in a safe space! We’re all in this together.

Once you’ve pulled yourself back out of the dark, don’t forget to find something happy to write about today in your Joy Journal! You’ll thank yourself later.

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