Apparently, our feelings too are the result of evolution. Sadness too. If it was all covered with snow outside, sad people found it easier to stay inside the cave through winter, which made them more likely to survive until child bearing years. Therefore more likely to pass their sad genes down to us.
Of course the whole world was not immersed in the Ice Age equally. My South East Asian friends gloat when telling me South East Asia cities already thrived 5000 years ago. It’s however much easier to leave the cave and have ideas when you do not live on an ice cap and we eventually did when the ice cap lifted a bit.
My South East Asian friends also tell me people in Asians are less likely to indulge in sadness and depression or to listen to their own feelings in a tragic way. I would love to see some stats about this.
My hypothesis is no ice no evolutionary reward for sadness.
If sadness has developed to reward us for being in, then maybe that is all it is half the time.
I call this biological sadness. For example, yesterday I had a brilliant day. I was at Last’s End, in Cornwall, UK, a land of dramatic grass covered cliffs falling into the wave covered ocean. I took a long walk over the cliffs, lots of sun and laughter, birds and light. Then back at the hotel, about 11pm, I started getting very very sad. The main questions of my life started popping round my head in a merciless assault. Then a moment of inspiration: I’m not really sad, my body is just tired!
Biological sadness is a driver for me on many occasions: when I’m hungry, when I’m ovulating, while PMSing, when I’m getting a little ill, for example coming down with the flue, and of course when I’m tired. In those moments, when I eventually get what’s happening (somehow it’s never obvious), I just know to ignore my thoughts, make no analyses of them, bother no one around me, find a bed and give myself however long my body needs to be up and running again.
Thing is, if your brain is tired, it starts ill processing things, putting back of the mind thoughts to the foreground, mishandling disease fighting or muscle coordinating or efforts to annul background noise or to cope with your child’s cry, etc. He has no eloquent way to tell your conscious self to go to sleep after you’ve refused to. But he has sadness. “You thought this was fun, I’ll just take away your drive”.
I was in a (now I see it) abusive relationship for 4.5 years. This guy would live every single winsical emotion of his, every single trace of biology, as if it were the centre of the world. And there we were, navigating rough oceans for no good reason at all. Such a waste of energy!
Bhudists know what I am talking about. They say our thoughts bring us up and down and around at random. Like a lake under changing weather: its essence is not the changing ripples on the water, its essence is what happens at its depths. Learning meditation is going from that surface of biology driven thoughts to a place where our core, our higher inner true selves, is prevalent. Waters there do not sway.
Not all passing thoughts and states define you in any way or are worth acting on. And distinguishing those that are from those that are not is one of the wisdoms of life.
So when does sadness mean your life needs acting on? Read my post “Decision Times” for that.