The art of the non-sad


Last week, Carmen left a comment on one of my posts that completely resonated with me:

For the last 1.75 years I have eliminated all sad music from any playlist I can control and axed sad movies. Guess what. IT IS AWESOME. I am all about melancholy, but some seasons require axing all extraneous sadness. I recommend this. You’ll love it. Get trashy movies and books, action and stupidity, and fill extra moments with hilariosity.

I could not agree more.  Last spring, when I was going through the darkest season of my life to date (which, in some ways, continues today), I watched a devastating, raw documentary called “Dear Zachary” that just about did me in.  I cried for days, and walked around with puffy eyes in a dark haze that just wouldn’t lift.  Right then and there, I chose to take a break from sad movies, music, and books.  Life is heavy enough – and while I definitely see a time and a place for sharing our tragedies and our struggles and our heartbreak (because you know I love a good wallow), there are times when we’re just not strong enough for it.

For me, right now, sad stories and words just crush me down, down, down – like a trash compactor*.

So I’ve cleared my Netflix queue of anything dark (aufedersein, Holocaust), and am skipping the sad songs on my iTunes (sayonora, um, most of my music), and have abandoned Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” (for now) in favor of more delightful, fluffy reading.

Here are my recommendations for a few non-sad things to be consumed.

I am loving “Parenthood” on DVD.  I’ve caught episodes on-and-off over the last couple of years, but I’m starting at the beginning and working my way through.  What great, lovable characters, and relatively true-to-life situations.  For all of my bad boy crushes (Tim Riggins, anyone?), when it comes down to it, I’m just looking for a man like Adam Braverman.

The Human Experience” is a fantastic documentary about man’s search for meaning.  The filmmakers and their mission completely charmed me.  Soak it up.

And I’m pretty sure that “Being Elmo” is going to be so sweet, so poignant.

I bought Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” at Target, and trust me: this book will cure whatever ails you.  Except maybe kennel cough.

A few years back, Rod bought me “I’m Down,” and I still laugh when I think about certain parts.

Also, my good friend Annie Downs is currently blogging a 31-day series on courage, and I’m loving it.  Mostly it’s just because I miss Annie Downs all the way to Scotland, which is where she is currently living, and getting a virtual dose of her every day in October is doing my heart good.

This one’s tough for me, since I’m obsessed with songs that gut me – I am masochism personified.

I have had to curb my repeat-listens of Jill Andrews’ “Sinking Ship,” because oh man, it’s cutting deep.  She has this line that’s like, “You told me lies with your hands and the truth with your lips,” and I’m like, “Oh my word” because she must have read my diary.  And then she says this thing about, “I’m searching, now not finding a better part of me, ’cause I want it back,” and that’s it.  I can no longer function.

So maybe don’t listen to that one.

But definitely listen to “Heart of the World” by Lady Antebellum.

And Sara Groves‘ latest, “Invisible Empires,” is just… so good.  “Open My Hands” is a current favorite track, as well as “Obsolete.”

And you should for sure listen to songs by Marc Scibilia.  I don’t really know how to get your hands on his music, but go on a hunt to find “Something Good in This World” and “How Bad We Need Each Other” and “Ain’t My Home.”  This guy knows what’s up.

What about you – know of anything non-sad that we should check out?

*When I was younger, I SO wanted a trash compactor in the kitchen.  Only our rich friends had them, so I associated the trash compactor with wealth, luxury, and ease.  The moral of the story is: kids, please dream bigger dreams.



  1. Dani on October 11, 2011 at 8:39 AM

    Ok, so I sound obsessive about this, but TRULY, the Sing-Off will make you non-sad! I swear.

    Also, I JUST bought high-waisted trousers, and the are whupping up on the sad too. :)

  2. Sarah on October 11, 2011 at 8:53 AM

    Annie, if that last line is from “I’m Down” I need to get it. I had a trash compactor growing up and it took, 20 lbs of trash and turned it into an even harder to carry 20 lbs of trash. I hated that damn thing, plus there was the whole fear I had that someone would accidentally stick an aerosol Pam can in there and I would go to compact the trash and blow up the kitchen…

    If you have never watched Freaks and Geeks I highly suggest checking out the entire season. I laughed the first time I watched them 10+ years ago and still laugh just as hard today.

  3. Lan on October 11, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    i am a super fan of Parenthood, i talk about it every week on fb/twitter/real life and how i am just amazed it’s not getting the love from everyone else the way Modern Family is. i’m pretty sure i would petition to be somehow a part of the braverman family if they really existed. or you know, hook up with crosby or something.

    happy music for me lately is Matt Nathanson’s last CD Modern Love, tho his best album is Some Mad Hope. i also love Sugarland’s Incredible Machine.

  4. Angie N on October 11, 2011 at 9:06 AM

    I have told more people about Tim Riggins than appropriate, you know, given he’s NOT a real person.

    But seriously, Parenthood? I end every episode by telling my dog and cat I just want to marry Adam Braverman! (See, good guys DO win in the end!)

    I feel like Parenthood serves as a good filler for the void created by the ending of FNL. It’s the same kind of feel good, warm your soul entertainment. I still cry in almost every episode, but it’s because of how attached I feel to those characters!

  5. Whitney on October 11, 2011 at 9:09 AM

    I mean, musically, the non-saddest music I listen to is the Newsies soundtrack. Or, really, any showtunes. Just belt out “Seize the Day” and try to feel bad. You can’t.

    Movies/tv: Bridesmaids – I just laugh thinking about it. All I Wanna Do and St. Trinian’s both British all girls boarding school movies. Classics. Happy Endings always makes me laugh, as does Community.

    Reading: I’m dying to read Bossypants and Mindy Kaling’s new book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (I’ve read experts – hilarious)but, sadly, grad school is sucking up all my extra reading time and apparently in my stretch of reading before that, I can’t remember anything particularly funny/happy that I read.

    I might have to try this.

  6. Mary on October 11, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    I have taken to watching Parks & Recreation on netflix when just putzing around my house. It’s short (30 mins), light, and (at times) laugh out loud hilarious. The best is when you leave the room to get your laundry, and pass by again and only hear the punchline, and still chuckle at the absurdity.

  7. Greta on October 11, 2011 at 10:10 AM

    Listen to…
    Maria Von Trapp, obviously.
    Taylor Swift, of course.
    The Head and the Heart
    Alison Krauss and Robert Plant– “Raising Sand”
    Have you checked out Mumford and Sons yet?

    I love and miss you dear friend.

  8. Delaney on October 11, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    Clearly, Arrested Development is the cure to all blues. Oh, and Jimmy Fallon.

    But that always makes me think about Holly Golightly, when she says she doesn’t always get the blues. Sometimes she gets the Mean Reds.

    I’ve never, ever lived in a house with a garbage disposal, but that sure doesn’t stop my dad from throwing all his scraps in my sink when he cooks in my kitchen. Then, miracle of miracles, The Boo’s boss buys us a garbage disposal for HIS BIRTHDAY. It’s been sitting in a box in our garage since mid-August. We’re so close to the life of leisure, I can feel it!

  9. Julie on October 11, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    “I’m obsessed with songs that gut me”… ME. TOO.

    Love this, Annie!! I am completely with you.

  10. Emily from Seattle on October 11, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    If you were into The Baby Sitters Club, Sweet Valley, etc when you were younger, and if you still happen to have some of your old books, get them out and read them. There’s nothing like a little nostalgia when you need some comfort food for the brain. :D

  11. Maria on October 11, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    Oh, girl. I was given that same advice years ago and still haven’t had the personal fortitude to heed it. I’m afraid all I can offer is a sheepish grin and a list called AVOID THESE:

    1. The Secret Life of Bees (the book). I had to cry it out at the coffee shop before I could even drive home.
    2. The Stoning of Soraya M.
    3. “Little Flowers” by Denison Whitmer
    4. “What Sarah Said” by Death Cab
    6. Titanic, ok.

    Can you recommend a good therapist?

  12. Ginger on October 11, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    Loving me some music by Andrew Belle “The Ladder” and am head over heels about the new Gungor Band release.

    “My Boys” is one of my favorite TV shows ever and now it’s streaming on Netflix. JIM GAFFIGAN. Must I say more?

    Billy Bryson’s books make me laugh outloud. Try “A Walk in the Woods” for your hiking self.

    ALSO AVOID: the movie “Playing By Heart.” I cried for 30+ minutes. Scratch that. I SOBBED when it was over.

  13. Alissa on October 11, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    That Carmen is one wise woman!

    oh, and my parents recently moved into a house with a trash compactor… they use it as a place to hold the garbage bag.

  14. Nashville Miranda on October 11, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    Have you watched the first season of Downton Abbey? It’s basically an aarly 20th century British soap opera, but you can feel ok watching it because it’s on public television. :) It’s my new obsession.

  15. Michelle on October 11, 2011 at 5:17 PM

    We have been trying to do more of that too – laughter really is good medicine, you know. A bit out of character for me, I admit, but I’m working on it.

    Bridesmaids. Saw it twice. Crazy Stupid Love wasn’t bad either.

    Flight of the Conchords. Couldn’t get into season 2, but season 1 is hilarious.

    For really silly British humor that you might not have seen yet, The Vicar of Dibley, about a female vicar in a small British village. But maybe that’s just funny to pastor’s wives.

    Music? Hmmm. I’ll be checking up some of the others’ suggestions. Truthfully, when things get really tough, I swallow my musical pride and find that good old fashioned worship music works best. Some of the hymns in modern arrangements are so beautiful and real. xo

  16. Stephie on October 11, 2011 at 11:21 PM

    I heart Joel; he gets more airtime as the show progresses:)

  17. Mike GP on October 12, 2011 at 1:28 PM

    Parenthood?!? Really? Re-read last year’s Pacchione Christmas Card as an elixir

  18. Kate Andre on October 14, 2011 at 7:43 AM

    I don’t watch much, but I just want to encourage you to keep watching Parenthood…its the BEST. And it keeps getting better…promise :)

  19. […] has been forgiven little, loves little (Luke 7:47). Fourth, I’m listening to happy music aka practicing “the art of non-sad” -it’s been […]

  20. jen h on October 16, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    Oldies, but brilliant:

    Miriam Makeba — Pata Pata
    Johnny Nash — I Can See Clearly Now
    Nina Simone — Oooh Child
    Ray Charles — Oh What a Beautiful Morning
    Staple Singers — If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)
    Harry Belafone — Jump in the Line
    Hot Chocolate — You Sexy Thing

    And some newer songs (but not that new, really — I’m awfully slow on the uptake):
    Michael Frante & Spearhead — The Sound of Sunshine
    Shakira — Waka Waka
    Rusted Root — Send Me On My Way

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