Sadness is part of the human condition. But it wasn’t part of God’s original plan for humanity. God created us for happiness — both natural happiness on this earth and supernatural bliss in heaven. Sadness entered the world the moment our first parents fell from grace.
God has promised us eternal, total happiness in heaven. He has not promised an earthly life free of pain. In fact, Jesus pretty much guaranteed His followers that they would have to suffer for His name.
However, you can try to alleviate some of the sorrows you encounter in daily life. St. Thomas Aquinas offers a few helpful ways to make those gray clouds dissipate from your mind. Here they are:
Sometimes your sorrow is so great that you struggle to enjoy the pleasures of life. However, wholesome pleasures have a powerful healing effect on the soul.
Enjoy a good meal. Go for a walk. Read a book. Don’t let pain give you a cynical view of life. While we rightly decry the materialism of our age, we can use these God-given pleasures to increase our joy and peace.
Because they know its healing effect, some people have an easier time weeping. Others hold it in. We’re especially looking at guys who think it’s “unmanly” to weep. Remember that the Bible records Christ Himself weeping.
Weeping cleanses our souls and helps us start afresh. While not every sad situation calls for weeping, don’t completely inhibit your tears.
3. The sympathy of friends
When you’re grieving, one of the greatest dangers is shutting yourself off from those who care about you. Granted, we all need some time to ourselves. Just don’t let it last too long. Otherwise, you’ll be left alone with your sad thoughts and God doesn’t want that!
4. Contemplating the truth
Thinking about the goodness and beauty of reality reminds you that sorrow doesn’t have the last word. Creation reveals God and His love. Christ took on our human nature to share His amazing plan of salvation.
Reading Scripture (especially the Psalms) and contemplating the great truths of our faith help us put our sadness in perspective.
5. A good bath and sleep
You thought St. Thomas was going to only give philosophical answers, didn’t you? For all his learning, he was a practical man. He wrote, “Sorrow, by reason of its specific nature, is repugnant to the vital movement of the body; and consequently whatever restores the bodily nature to its due state of vital movement, is opposed to sorrow and assuages it.” He then mentions a bath and sleep as great ways to alleviate sorrow.
Science backs the Angelic Doctor up, at least on the need for sleep. Try getting to bed at a reasonable time whenever you can. You’ll be surprised how much it helps!
Although they won’t banish all sorrow from your life, these remedies will help you manage it better, so you can live in the joy and love that God calls you to.