A correlation between sadness and creativity might exist, but maybe the causal relation is the other way around. As opposed to thinking that sadness causes higher creativity, maybe engaging in any form of creative activity causes sadness.
How can painting, writing, drawing, or making music cause sadness? Because most are solitary activities, because they don’t always lead to instant applause, because it takes years and years before you break through.
Who wouldn’t feel a little depressed at that grim reality?
So artists are faced with two options:
1. Either they learn to love the painful process of doing their work, or
2. They quit because it’s too rough.
That being said, the artists that ‘make it’ inevitably find a way to endure the sad reality of being an artist. They accept that life isn’t always fair, and if they want to pursue their dream, they have to sacrifice short-term happiness. As a result, they don’t get discouraged when their work gets rejected. They view criticism as feedback that improves their work, as opposed to taking it personally.
Artists that learn to embrace pain are like athletes in intense training—they know that pain is only temporary, and when it’s over something else will take its place (positive results). Artists may not flaunt a cheery smile when painting a painstaking portrait, but neither do athletes when they’re squatting at the gym or skating laps at the rink. But just because we’re not smiling, doesn’t mean we’re not loving the pain, the challenge, the adversity.
Embrace the pain
The artists (and athletes) that can’t handle a little pain are the ones that get weeded out. On the other hand, those that can suffer through the pain and loneliness and drudgery are the ones that eventually get recognized and rewarded.
Therefore, being comfortable with sadness may help us survive the long, arduous journey. Damon Dash, the music mogul, put it this way:
Embrace the pain. Nothing good is going to happen without pain. It’s going to be rough; you’ve got to accept that. It’s always going to look like it’s not going to happen, and that’s when it does if you keep fighting. Life is just a test.
By learning to handle pain more courageously, even learning to embrace it, you will have an advantage over your comrades who bail when the journey gets tough.