Ten Benefits of Sadness

August 5, 2013

benefits of sadness

by Derek Whitney

Now more than ever before, there seems to be a multitude of things to make people sad. The economy, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, terrorism and war are just a few of the things that have the ability to bring people down on a daily basis. Thanks to the Internet, tablets, smartphones and many 24-hour news channels, these tragic events are brought to us immediately in living color.

Of course, this is not counting the personal tragedies that people have to deal with. The death of a friend or relative, the loss of a job, the death of a pet, bankruptcy, foreclosure and car accidents are much more painful than tragedies that you watch on the news. This is because you are directly affected by them.

However, sadness is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can have many benefits. While this may be surprising to most people, the fact is that humans need sadness in their lives. It is part of what truly makes people human. Here are some of the benefits of sadness:

1. Better memory

People that are in bad moods have a tendency to have improved memories. According to one study, people that were feeling sad remembered more than people in a good mood about the interior details of a shop. It is also more difficult to trick sad people with misleading questions. While scientists are not sure why these things occur, the results of the tests are intriguing.

2. Less gullible

Sad people tend to be less gullible. Studies show that they can detect when someone is trying to deceive them better than happy people. They are also less likely to believe urban legends.

3. Improved judgment

Sadness makes people have judgment that is more accurate. For many years, social scientists have documented the judgmental biases of people in different moods. Researchers are now indicating that sad people do not fall prey to those biases as easily as people that are in good moods.

4. Increased motivation

Sadness has also been shown to have motivational benefits. For example, studies indicate that sad people are able to persevere longer at tasks that most people would give up on after a short time. Scientists believe that the human brain, in an effort to block out all of the negativity and sadness, will focus on a particular task like a laser, no matter how difficult it is. People who were sad at the start of the task become so engaged in the activity that accomplishing their goal becomes their driving ambition.

5. Lack of stereotyping

Negative stereotyping is a behavior that is not commonly seen from sad people. They are also less likely to act on any negative stereotypical judgments. Researchers believe that this has something to do with sadness affecting the part of the brain that makes people more civil and understanding.

6. Ability to appreciate their blessings in life

Sadness can make people more appreciative of what they have. An example would be parents who have three children. If one of those children were to tragically die in a car accident, the immediate reaction would be sorrow and grief. However, the parents would eventually begin to appreciate their two remaining children more than they did before the accident. This would in turn lead to a stronger family bond.

7. Analytical reasoning

Analytical reasoning is enhanced by sadness. Complex problems are more easily broken down into more manageable parts by this type of intense thinking.

8. Improved manners

Manners have been shown to be improved when people are going through a difficult time. These people tend to ask for things in a more polite way than people who are at their best.

9. Improved persuasiveness

Sad people tend to focus their energy into getting what they want. Therefore, it is common for sad people to be more persuasive. They are generally very good at coming up with effective and believable arguments.

10. Fairness is increased

Research has also shown that sad people are generally more fair. For example, if people that are feeling down and depressed are allowed to allocate a particular resource any way they want, they will most likely distribute the resource more fairly than happy people.

Image Credit: Mark Sebastian