„You say that emotions are overrated. But that’s bullshit. Emotions are all we’ve got.“ It is just a few rods Mick Boyle, aka Harvey Keitel, speaks out to say goodbye to his long-time friend Fred Ballinger, embodied by Michael Caine, before he steps off the balcony to bring his own story to an early ending. After probably the biggest disappointment of his life this action weigh as heavy on the spectator as on Ballinger who we get to know as an emotionally closed off composer. It’s the first time he expresses feelings – 100 minutes into the 110-minute-movie called „Youth“ by Paolo Sorrentino.

Happiness? For granted!

We’re probably feeling too well! How else could we explain ourselves our lack of recognition for wellbeing while perceiving every smallest detail of feelings we define as negative. Taking a closer look at ourselves, it is way easier to recall the last time we felt anger or were hurt before our latest exaltation comes to mind. Rage and anger are even more often recognized by our surroundings and being addressed faster than positive emotions. Sometimes it seems as these times are the ones be defining while it should be the other way around. Our expectations are driven towards being happy, and therefore we consider our wellbeing more natural resulting in the fact that we often do not realize how fortunate we actually are: If nothing is wrong, everything is alright!

Sadness is a blessing!

At this point note that our pursuit of happiness is anything but the opposite of the misery of not feeling too well. We can draw so much strength and hope from emotions that are defined as bad by society. This is where we learn the most important lessons and create sustainable memories on this rollercoaster ride that is life. Even if we live through those moments more than once we will be fine. Bad situations are not necessarily there to go through them, learn and never face them again. Even here – a paradox – we can find comfort. Our genetic toolbox has given us the precious instrument called melancholy that according to French writer Victor-Marie Hugo is a way of coping with being sad while finding pleasure in sadness. German lyricist Damaris Wieser has another explanation of the positivity that can be found in sorrow: „why do we see melancholy as something bad? For me, it is an intensive time that I spend with my own soul.“

What influences our feelings?

We are used to thinking that external circumstances affect our mood. The coffee we got invited too, an unexpected kiss but also the loss of a 10 Euro bill or the small ditch we caused in our neighbors’ car make us calm, happy as well as sad, desperate or pathetic. These things are not dictating the narrative of our being but are small incisions with a temporary effect on our general mood. Sometimes for a more extended period and sometimes shorter. Fact is that this general mood is driven by our mindset and not temporary effects. A person that is happy in general can feel anger or sadness as these mood changes make us human, but they will always come back to their general state of feeling once the dust settles. In reverse, a person with a rather sad mindset can enjoy happiness but will always find the fly in the ointment and return to being unhappy.

Our emotional state is homemade, and it’s only ourselves holding the reins that will bring happiness in our lives. The key to that lies in our mind: Think positive!