I recently discovered the UPLIFT CONNECT podcast series. Some of the speakers tend toward the wonky, but I’ve found the topics are all fascinating (and not so wonky I can’t follow them).

UPLIFT is “a global media channel dedicated to sharing thought-provoking content that inspires positive change around the world. Our audience has access to free content on a range of topics, including – but not limited to – wellness, science, and earth.” (There’s also a Facebook page if that’s your preferred medium.)

In these stressful and chaotic times, I’m always looking for sources and models that point us toward positive actions we can take. It’s too easy to focus on the negative – in fact, our brains are wired to focus on the negative. It’s an evolutionary survival mechanism. That’s why it takes a conscious and sustained effort to focus on the positive. It’s well worth the effort, because focusing on positive actions we can take helps prevent feelings of despair or falling into a paralyzed state of mind.

The latest UPLIFT podcast I listened to was on sadness. In the podcast Why Sadness Is Good for You, Joseph Forgas, professor of Psychology at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, discusses his research on the evolutionary purpose of emotions we’ve labeled as “negative.”

He notes that what surprised him and his team was that sadness is not only useful as a “warning mechanism,” it provides unexpected benefits for decision-making and leadership skills.

Keeping in mind that he’s talking about sadness, not clinical depression, Forgas says that his research team has discovered that:

“People in a mild negative-affective state (sadness) tend to perform better, their memory is more accurate, their judgments seem to be less biased, and they communicate more effectively.”

Seems counter-intuitive, right? That’s what makes it so fascinating.