Health News & Articles
Whatever happened to melancholy?
I absolutely loved the article by Laren Stover in the New York Times, “The Case for Melancholy”.
Stover observes “everywhere you look these days you see something on how to be happy — how to manifest abundance, desires and success, find your bliss”. In one extreme case apparently you can reach ‘life-long happiness’ by simply following as little as three steps.
When I got together with Fran and Lily to discuss the theme of the December edition for the website, I excitedly suggested “The Happiness Issue!”, clearly overdoing the exclamation mark as I said it. I can’t remember which one of them did it, but I think I saw a finger going to the back of someone’s throat. Let’s stay real.
One of the reasons why we started ‘My Life Moves’ was to offer a no-nonsense health website with practical solutions for real life situations. Life has its ups and downs, moments of happiness and yes, also moments of sadness….thank goodness.
As human beings we need to experience a wide range of feelings, without which we would not be able to appreciate life in all its richness. Happy-go-lucky is good, but just like a massage, when you have too much of it, it can end up numbing you and eventually even hurt you. If we draw a curtain over sadness, how can we possibly recognise what’s going on with the world around us, and, more essentially, within ourselves?
Irvin Yalom, a well-known existential psychiatrist, said in one of his books that he didn’t trust people who didn’t curse. I feel a bit the same about ‘super happy’ people. They make me wonder what they are hiding. The most challenging clients I have ever come across, are those for whom everything is always good. Interestingly, these clients have taken time to contact me, make an appointment for Yoga Therapy and they come once a week, every week, for months…so they must come for a reason. But when I ask them about themselves, everything is fine. Their shield of protection is built to perfection.
The process of sinking down into a temporary cloud of melancholy is actually good for your soul, just like feeding your body not only with sweet sugary stuff but also with sour, salty, spicy and pungent flavours. It’s just a question of balance. If this means sometimes sitting on the sofa on a rainy day, cuddled up with a blanket, feeling lonely and with a sense of loss, so be it. Going for a quiet walk through the woods, immersed in a feeling of sadness, or shedding some held-up tears when we hear a beautiful piece of music feeds your soul. Interestingly, as you let yourself feel these emotions, you will most likely start feeling a sense of calmness and peace within yourself, and perhaps see things more clearly.
Melancholy is well known to be a prelude to creativity. It’s no coincidence that the most inspiring artists in history have been known to be “miserable” or to have had moments of temporary melancholy when creating a masterpiece. So why not enjoy the passing of a melancholic mood just like the falling of the snow, which after time unveils the colours of Spring underneath…
In one of my favourite movies,“Something’s Got to Give”, the main female character, Diane Keaton, experiences an extreme bout of sadness in a beautiful -and funny- show of emotions for the loss of her love (Jack Nicholson). Watch her write, between tears and inspiration, what will become her best selling novel after the ultimate attack of melancholy.
Diane Keaton at “Something’s got to give”…