Monday, November 06, 2017

Pick five words that describe the way you want to experience your life

The people who study emotions tell us that there are six basic emotions: joy, surprise, fear, anger, sadness and disgust.  If you believe them, then most of your emotions are unpleasant.  This is how people have written about emotions for hundreds of years: as if they pull us down into the mud. The better way to live, the reasoning went, was like Spock in Star Trek. All decisions would be made better by reason alone.

Now we know that people with no access to emotions have a hard time making any decisions at all. It turns out that emotions are a complex signalling system that allow us to know very quickly that our brains have recognized a pattern that might help us or harm us. You can see how all those negative emotions might be useful in this way: they are an early warning system that might allow us to avoid danger, or at least to recognize it when it's all around us.

This is important if you believe that the goal of the human being is to persist, to stay alive. It's certainly a key to understanding how much of our automatic responses work. But that's not the whole story. We don't want to just stay alive; we want to experience our lives as joyful, satisfying, challenging.

© Can Stock Photo / osons

So this week, pick five words that describe how you want to feel. In addition to joy, what words describe the way you want to experience your life? What words describe the way you want to feel?

I guarantee, that after you pick your five words, you'll be more sensitive to how and when those emotions show up in your day.  We don't always get what we aim for. But aiming for a destination makes it much more likely we'll end up there.

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