You can let sadness fuel happiness
Out of a set of 27 emotions, sadness lasts the longest, whereas shame, surprise, fear, disgust, boredom, being touched, irritated, or feeling relief are often over in a flash. “Rumination is the central determinant of why some emotions last longer than others. Emotions associated with high levels of rumination will last longest,” says Philippe Verduyn, who with Saskia Lavrijsen of the University of Leuven in Belgium published their research in the journal Motivation and Emotion.
The researchers discovered that emotions that last a shorter time are typically elicited by events that have relatively low importance attached to them. In contrast, long-lasting emotions tend to be caused by events that have strong implications for a person’s major concerns.
Verduyn says some of these implications may only become apparent over time, which then causes the emotion to be maintained or strengthened. The feeling therefore endures while a person rethinks the events and consequences over and over again.
Duration is a dimension that can differentiate between otherwise very similar emotions. For example, guilt is an emotion that persists much longer than shame, while anxiety lingers longer than fear.
“Emotions of shorter duration are typically – but, of course, not always – elicited by events of relatively low importance. On the other hand, long-lasting emotions tend to be about something highly important,” Lavrijsen explains further.
Interestingly enough, boredom also counts among the shorter emotions experienced. Verduyn and Lavrijsen say that this means that even though time seems to pass slowly when one is bored, an episode of boredom typically doesn’t last that long.
Sadness lasts up to 240 times longer than feeling ashamed, surprised, irritated, or bored because sadness often goes hand in hand with events of greater impact. You need more time to mull over and cope with what happened to fully comprehend it.
To let your sadness fuel happiness, embrace the sadness, ruminate as needed, but most importantly, make sure your sadness is about something that really is important to you.
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