We all get sad, sometimes. Some of us are better than others at hiding it. Some of us might be more in tune with their emotions and perceive sadness in a different way. Regardless, sadness is part of everyone’s life, and therefore must have a purpose. Many believe that creativity and sadness go hand in hand. Some might even believe that only a truly sad or even depressed artist is capable of that something special. Sting once said: “I don’t need to manufacture trauma in my life to be creative. I have a big enough reservoir of sadness or emotional trauma to last me.” This hints that sadness is indeed an essential element to his creative process. Creativity, however, is unlikely to be the only purpose of sadness and there must be other ends to this often strong emotional reaction.
A child letting go of a balloon or dropping an ice cream on the floor will feel sad, and possibly cry, because he or she has lost something that provided joy, pleasure or happiness. Sadness is often triggered by loss. If we were to take this feeling of sadness and increase it, prolong it, could we call it depression? According to an article from Scientific American, numerous studies point to the fact that sad and depressed people become more analytical. They tend to pay more attention to detail and come up with better solution when attempting to solve problems. This feeling changes the functioning of our mind and body, helping us to concentrate on the matter at hand, in the hope of finding a satisfactory solution, a change.
Pleasure and happiness are essential to our lives. It is obvious, if you pay attention to how addicted we have become to these rewards. In those occasions when we lose one of our sources of pleasure, we face a challenge, an obstacle. It prompts us to change the way we think, to concentrate, to reminisce, analysing all aspects relating to our loss. We imagine life before and after the loss, we compare it, understanding the essence of what we are missing. We are trying to figure out where and how to recover the positive feeling. George R.R. Martin once wrote: “A bruise is a lesson, and each lesson makes us better.” Obstacles have shaped humanity, prompting us to approach them creatively in search of a solution. Sadness is the trigger, the flag, that tells us that we have lost something important, a positive reward.
The greatest obstacle to creativity is a lack of obstacles. Why would someone change path, if the one they are travelling is easy and filled with positive rewards? One could believe, creativity mainly serves the purpose of assisting our survival, of helping us to overcome serious life threatening obstacles. We, however, have developed its application further in other areas, such as the arts, for reasons which still feels mysterious to me. Yoko Ono once said: ‘Experiencing sadness and anger can make you feel more creative, and by being creative, you can get beyond your pain or negativity.’ The ‘creative’ process helps you move beyond the obstacle of loss, a process triggered by the feeling of sadness. I do not believe we can become addicted to sadness, like some troubled artists would like to claim. It is the feeling of finding pleasure again that is addictive, that moment and the satisfaction of believing that our own creativity was the key in doing so.