Sunday, October 3, 2010

Recent Thoughts

I got to thinking the other day that so often many of us talk about our emotions as something that are primarily difficult or negative. Just want to throw out there that many emotions are positive. How about the times you have experienced these?

affection love fondness liking attraction caring tenderness compassion sentimentality arousal desire passion curiosity joy cheerfulness amusement bliss gaiety glee jolliness joviality delight enjoyment gladness happiness jubilation elation satisfaction ecstasy euphoria zest enthusiasm zeal excitement thrill exhilaration contentment pleasure triumph optimism eagerness hope optimism rapture relief surprise amazement

The thing with emotions is that any given one doesn't necessarily last very long; they come and go. It does take some practice to avoid holding onto a feeling, whether it be a positive or a negative one. We say we don't want to feel the "bad" ones, but sometimes our minds will latch onto something and won't let us stop experiencing that feeling, as when we are angry about what another person did and we can't stop thinking about it and rehearsing and rehashing it in our brain. I read a book some time ago by Jill Bolte Taylor called My Stroke of Insight. She's was a neurophysiologist (or equivalent) and had a stroke and part of her recovery process was in being able to watch her own emotional process. She noticed a pattern in herself that she called the 90 second rule, where an emotion causes a chemical process in the body that lasts for 90 seconds. After that time, any remaining response is the individual choosing to continue experiencing that feeling, whether that choice is conscious or not. I don't know whether this is "true", but it is something interesting to think about.

I mentioned this to some friends who responded one of two ways:  either they defended why they needed to feel the "negative" emotions or they explained how they work very hard at only experiencing the "positive" ones.  That's not the point, the point is that ultimately, we are going to experience all or most of the whole gamut of feelings - if we hold on to a particular one, whether it be one we think of a good or one we think of as bad, then we can get stuck in it and make ourselves suffer.  If we strive to hold onto happiness, oh my, aren't our hopes dashed.  If we don't let anger flow through and out of us, that burns us inside.