Today I participated in an extensive discussion of emotions. What are emotions good for and what are they bad for? We explored our own recent emotional experiences with our facilitator asking us questions like, “When was the last time you felt the emotion of anger?” We were all sitting in relaxed postures with our eyes closed while we reminisced over our personal experiences. Each of us then spoke briefly about something significant we felt had happened when an emotion had welled up.
We all have experienced Paul Ekman‘s 7 basic emotions: Anger, Contempt, Fear, Disgust, Happiness, Sadness, and Surprise, and today we reviewed occurrences of them in our daily lives. There were several who spoke of trying to avoid negative emotions like anger and to think about the positive sides of their lives. Others worried about worrying. I spoke of the ugly people behind my computer monitor constantly assaulting my time with advertising. Every second of their unwanted intrusion is a theft of potentially the most enjoyable moments of what remains of my life.
We generally agreed that all emotions have a value for helping us live our daily lives better. That all emotions are a signal to our intellectual being that something needs to be attended to. The emotions arise from our primal being, from our primitive being, and probably from our prehuman past. We instinctually fear loud noises and heights, and easily learn to fear others. The emotions are built in, but they may require some training with personal experience to reach their full usefulness. These thoughts were with us as we explored together.
Emotions are often thought of as wild things that need to be tamed by our intellect, but it may be just the opposite. Our emotions are in more immediate contact with our personal reality than our minds, and if that is true, we should pay close attention to them. We should let them run their full expression, and not suppress them in any way. Of course, we may find it important to suppress actions that might be counterproductive to our self-interest, but let the emotions themselves surge through us to their fullest.
Emotions are a major part of our lives and we should appreciate them to the fullest.