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  • Writer's pictureThuy An Nguyen Ngoc

The Art of Acceptance: Finding Beauty in Sadness

Our society's relationship with sadness is complex. Despite its fundamental nature, sadness is often overlooked in conversation.

Understanding the Role of Sadness: Exploring Its Evolutionary Significance and Psychological Implications

Sadness, being a natural emotion, is theorized by some evolutionary psychologists to serve a survival function. John Bowlby, a British psychologist in the mid-20th century, proposed a theory of attachment suggesting that infants and children are inclined to remain close to their caregivers (typically parents) for survival purposes. 

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According to a theory of attachment put forth by British psychologist John Bowlby in the middle of the 20th century, infants and children have an innate desire to stay close to their caregivers—typically their parents—in order to survive.

In a healthy attachment dynamic, caregivers are attuned to the child's needs, providing a sense of security. Sadness, in this context, facilitates the attachment process by signalling loss (such as separation from a parental figure) and motivating efforts to address that loss (such as seeking the whereabouts of a missing caregiver).

Moreover, theorists suggest that sorrow may have developed as a means of seeking aid. Specifically, human tears serve primarily as nonverbal social communication, signalling a need for assistance, solace, and communal backing. Essentially, sadness represents the cost associated with our capacity to forge interpersonal connections.

The Interplay of Sadness and Memory: Unveiling the Connection Through Scientific Inquiry

Sadness is believed to impact our memory, in addition to aiding our ancestors' survival millennia ago. A study published in 2008 in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology revealed that a negative mood can significantly affect people's memory abilities. 

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A 2008 study that was published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology showed that people's memory can be greatly impacted by their mood.

Researchers examined the memories of 73 randomly selected shoppers and found that individuals recalled details of objects they encountered in stores more vividly on dreary, rainy days. Conversely, when people generally felt happy on bright, sunny days, their memory was notably less accurate in identical circumstances. This research suggests negative emotions can enhance our recollection by heightening our attention to detail.

The Melancholy Muse: Sadness as a Catalyst for Artistic Expression and Creativity

People, in general, may not be aware of the profound connection between sadness and the creation of great art. However, this relationship is indeed present. Consider the impact of a film that deeply moved you or a song that evoked intense emotions. It may seem unconventional, but many people (including me) believe this is the essence of profound art: to elicit emotional depth. 

The role of most artists often involves making sense of a fractured world. This is because our reality can frequently feel lacking, and each individual contends with personal struggles on a daily basis. By examining the masterpieces born from artists' struggles and grief, one can appreciate how sorrow is a powerful catalyst for exceptional artistry. 

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Most artists' work frequently entails trying to make sense of a broken world. Examining the works of art that resulted from hardships and bereavement allows one to see how grief can be a potent catalyst for extraordinary creativity.

Consider notable examples such as Picasso's "The Old Guitarist," painted during a period of profound grief, or Van Gogh's "The Starry Night," which was created amidst personal turmoil and mental anguish. Coco Chanel's iconic perfume, Chanel No. 5, was inspired by the loss of her husband. Similarly, Charlie Chaplin's film "The Kid" was produced during a tumultuous period of divorce and relocation. Even J.K. Rowling's celebrated "Harry Potter" series emerged from a place of personal adversity, written during a period of depression following a difficult divorce. These instances highlight the capacity of deep emotions, especially sadness, to act as a source of creativity and artistic excellence.

Acceptance and Resilience: Embracing Sadness as a Pathway to Personal Growth and Understanding

You may be contemplating, "How should we approach our feelings of sadness?" Our suggestion is to acknowledge and accept it. While confronting sadness can be challenging, it remains an integral aspect of the human experience. It's, hence, essential to show yourself compassion when these emotions arise.

Navigating Sadness with Compassion through the Concept of "Wabi Sabi" 

To more easily accept sadness, perhaps the aesthetic concept of "Wabi Sabi" in Japanese culture will help you somewhat. This is an intriguing phrase combining the two nouns "wabi" (essence found in silence) and "sabi" (solitude) with the meaning of honouring the beauty of imperfect things in life. One of the best philosophies of the Wabi Sabi lifestyle is "Kintsugi" - the technique of mending broken objects using materials such as lacquer mixed with gold, silver or platinum powder instead of throwing it away. Imperfections on the item will then be seen as a unique testament to its timeless history, thereby increasing the appeal and value of the item in the eyes of the user. Remember this unique perspective whenever you constantly feel negative emotions surrounding you that make you lose faith in yourself!

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The item's imperfections will then be viewed by the user as a special testament to its ageless history, enhancing its appeal and value.


  1. Garibaldi, C. (2015, June 5). Wiz Khalifa's 'See You Again' was written in about the time you could listen to it twice. MTV News. 

  2. McKay, T. (2014, November 4). There's Happy News for People Who Listen to Sad Songs. Mic. 

  3. Oppong, T. (2018, November 1). Wabi-Sabi: The Japanese philosophy for a perfectly imperfect life. Personal Growth.

  4. Joseph, F. (2017, May 14). Why bad moods are good for you: the surprising benefits of sadness. The Conversation. 

  5. Shachan, D. (2018, August 13). Don't worry about feeling sad: On the benefits of a blue period. Aeon. 

  6. Thompson, A. (2007, September 5). Bad memories stick better than good. Live Science. 

  7. Tugend, A. (2012, March 23). Praise is fleeting, but brickbats we recall. The New York Times. 


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