how to be sad

Everything I’ve learned about getting happier, by being sad, better. Part memoir, part manifesto for change in how we express our emotions, good and bad.

about the book - how to be sad

Why do we cry? 

How come love hurts?

And what's a happiness researcher doing writing about sadness, anyway?

Well, it turns out the two aren’t mutually exclusive. After eight years of investigating into happiness, Helen discovered a startling fact: most of us are terrified of being sad. So phobic, in fact, that we jeopardise our chances of truly living at all. This needs to change, because we need our sadness: it’s a message. It can tell us what’s wrong and what to do about it. Researchers have found that allowing for temporary sadness, counter-intuitively, makes us happier. And trying to avoid sadness – even to the extent many of us do on a daily basis – is detrimental to our mental health. So the time has come to get better at having difficult conversations.

How To Be Sad is part memoir, part manifesto for change in how we express our emotions, good and bad. Exploring why we get sad; what makes us sad; how sadness can be a force for good; the truth about crying; why some of us get sadder than others; what we can do when we’re sad; and what we definitely shouldn’t do. Including the history of sadness, how other cultures handle theirs, the differences between sadness and depression, addiction, grief, heartbreak, burnout and everything in between.

Russell interweaves personal testimony with the latest research on sadness from psychologists, psychiatrists, geneticists, neuroscientists and historians as well as the experiences of writers, comics, athletes and change-makers from both sides of the Atlantic. How To Be Sad includes interviews with former medic Adam Kay, Joshua Becker (Becoming Minimalist), Meik Wiking (The Happiness Research Institute), Ella Mills (Deliciously Ella), Jeremy Vine (BBC), journalists Matt Rudd (The Sunday Times) and John Crace (The Guardian), polar explorer Ben Saunders, Yomi Adegoke (The Black Girls Bible), comedian Robin Ince, Julia Samuel MBE (Grief Works) and Mungi Ngomane (Everyday Ubuntu). How To Be Sad is a guide for anyone who has ever been sad. A book about how we can all get happier by learning to be sad, better.