Charlie's Blog: The Positive Power of Negative Emotions


The Positive Power of Negative Emotions

Then came to him the disciples of John, saying: Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but thy disciples do not fast? And Jesus said to them: Can the children of the bridegroom mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then they shall fast.

Do you know any happy people? I know some happy people. They are filled to the brim with joy and vigor and zest for life. They always have smiles on their faces. They are also the most deluded and gullible people that I know. The happiness and stupidity are a package deal. You can take it to the bank that the person with the smile on his face has no clue what is going on.

I don't like happy people. This doesn't come from avarice. It just comes from the simple observation that happy people live in delusion and have a very bad habit of deluding others. When you lay some honesty on them, they call you "negative." This is because reality is negative to the happy person.

Happiness is not possible in this world. The best we can attain is a foretaste of happiness found in interior life. Most people miss this true happiness because they have been beguiled by the false happiness of this world. Swept away by the giddiness of their own imbecility, they exchange the truth for the lie. They build their houses on the foundation of sand, and they will weep bitter tears when those houses collapse into ruin.

It is better to have a life of negative emotions and experiences and to encounter them early in life. Young people are typically born into stupidity, and it is always a calamity if they remain there. The path of wisdom is painful, yet it leads to true happiness. Jesus Christ tell us this in the Beatitudes:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 
Those paradoxical lines certainly perplexed those who first heard them just as they perplex us today. Jesus says that these people with their negative emotions are actually happy. How can this be? This is because happiness is not a mere feeling of pleasure or bliss. It is a state of being.

People who experience anger, sadness, and grief have a greater grasp of reality. The pain of negative experiences drives people to ask the hard questions. Why are things the way they are? Why is life so awful? How can I ever be happy in such an awful world?

People are made for happiness. It is the end that we all seek. Yet, happiness eludes us like a carrot on a string. The surest path to unhappiness is to aim for happiness. This life never delivers on what we seek and desire. So, we lie to ourselves. And we lie to others in various ways to convince both them and ourselves that we are happy. We post pictures on social media of our fabulous and happy lives as if the empirical data of a photograph can turn the fantasy into reality. The reality is that we are just fooling ourselves.

The better path is to embrace those negative emotions. We need to run with them. We need to let the pain of it all tear into our souls and break our hearts. We need to allow the hurt to burn away our illusions about this life.

This embrace of misery and suffering is anathema to our modern ears. For those who live in the first world, negative emotions are something to be banished from our minds. We glut ourselves on consumer goods, food, drugs, fancy cars, entertainment, and a veritable smorgasbord of earthly delights. Yet, this first world excess has its citizens reporting high levels of emptiness and dissatisfaction and depression and suicide.

The feeling of dissatisfaction is known as angst which comes from the human condition. Even when we are experiencing the good times, a part of us feels that it must end at some point, and it does. The anticipation of these calamities produces in us high levels of anxiety. But this is a good thing because angst keeps us sober.

God allows us to suffer for the sake of our good. God cannot work with happy delusional people. God has no interest in beguiling us with vanities and foolishness. This is the devil's work. God offers us hardship known as the cross.

Suffering deprives us of our delusions, but it also drives us to another delusion. This is the delusion of despair. Once we have given up on happiness in this world and in this life, we are tempted into believing that happiness does not exist at all. We face the gaping maw of the dark abyss of pessimistic and atheistic nihilism. When the devil can no longer trick you, he will opt to bash your brains in and drive you to self-harm and destruction. If the hopes of this world are just lies, then the hopes of the next world must be lies, too.

Karl Marx said that religion was the opiate of the masses. This comparison to narcotics was the lie that religion is a false comfort. Deprived of material necessities, simple folk turn to religion to delude themselves. Yet, what comfort is there in a religion of a crucified leader and His calls to sacrifice and martyrdom? Certainly, there are better lies than this one.

The reality of the Christian experience is between the delusions of worldly happiness and existential despair. And that, Gentle Reader, is the hardest thing to embrace about the Christian religion. It isn't the darkness. It is the hope. Despair allows us to give up. Hope perseveres.

Our hope is sustained in Word and Sacrament. Without these two things, we are doomed. The satanic endgame is to deprive us of Word and Sacrament through various stratagems. First, the devil fills us with hopes of happiness in this world. When this fails, he drives us to despair of finding happiness in the next world. The end is the same--Hell.

Our negative emotions have positive power when they drive us to Christ. This is the primary reason God allows negative experiences in our lives. This is why Job was allowed to suffer and why St. Paul was given a thorn in the flesh. Likewise, God allows dark nights of the soul to fortify us against despair.

There is no happiness without God. God alone suffices. The problem is that we are too stupid to see this. So, we suffer in order to strip away this stupidity. We should never envy a happy fool. Ignorance is bliss, but this ignorance does not last forever. Be grateful that you discovered this early instead of too late.