Have you ever thought of the importance of being fluent in the language of emotions? Have you ever even considered emotions as a language? Well I hadn’t until I was reading a dense article on the importance of knowing what’s up wth your emotions— AND the importance of knowing emotions of those around you.
So if you have ever seen the animated movie Inside Out some of this may sound familiar. The six basic emotions (which don’t include the TWENTY more recently “discovered” ones—like “awe”) are happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear and disgust. In reviewing this list I thought, wow, no wonder life can be so stressful, look at our choices of how we get to feel. The odds aren’t looking so hot. However, every emotion is important. Emotion, named from the Latin word for “to move” indicates movement. An emotion often triggers your facial expression to shift, your nervous system to react and other physical changes (“butterflies in stomach, etc.). Emotions are the quick jolts leading to moods—moods which last longer. (Or my husband might tease that my moods are pretty fleeting too.) Common sense, human instinct and being present to your emotion will help you kick that adrenaline into gear when running from a lion and such.
While it might seem tempting to say you’d like to just hover around “happiness” all the time, less positive emotions are critical in life too. While reading this in a TIME magazine article, I absolutely related to the fact that the darker, more solemn emotions help make sense of tough situations. They make us aware of the complex and shaky areas in our lives that need extra attention. I’ve found that when experiencing “sadness” my mind does get more still and calm….and sometimes creative? Feel that pain and work through it. Suppressing emotions leads to all kinds of backfires. Being conscious and present of your emotions (identifying them as they roll in) can help you stay in more control of them. If you don’t recognize them (“greet” them, if you will) you are at their mercy ; )
An old boss used to say, “Be confident in what you know and humbled by what you don’t.” I have revisted this phrase for over a decade in different scenarios. Most recently when I’ve felt like I projected snippy behavior to my husband and kiddos. For those times when I have to repeat myself to my family or I specifically write something on a list for my husband to do and he doesn’t, my immediate reaction is that he doesn’t think my preferences matter or the time that I took to be specific is important. HOWEVER, in working on being more awesome, I’ve learned that maaaaybe just mayyybe he’s got other things on his plate too (work/family, etc.). And perhaps we do all make mistakes. So I will in turn work on my reaction. And perhaps care less about those little things. (And, I mean, men seriously do multi- task less efficiently (or “differently”?) than women. That’s true because I read it somewhere ;) — so repeating myself while he’s texting or reading something should just be an “understood”.) It should also be noted that my husband **loves** when I make mistakes like forgetting something at home or getting the date wrong for an event. Alas, I remain humbled. (…and confident in the other 92 things I’m nailing that day. ;)
So on to more fun stuff– happiness—and in light of St. Pat’s around the corner—good fortune! This is no new news that being around happy folks can bring you more happiness. Being around stable, respecting couples can improve your relationship/outlook on relationships. Being happier can lead to greater success at work and in relationships of all kinds. Spread that cheer. Pay it forward.
A study was referenced in this article/issue ( TIME The Science of Emotions), that reminded me so much of the CLASSIC movie Clueless starring Alicia Silverstone back in the day. The study showed that a group of teachers were split into two groups after reporting that some had “negative” days and others had experienced “positive” days. THEN they were given papers to grade. On average the “positive” day teachers scored the students’ work up to two points higher. Cue the scene in Clueless when Cher (Silverstone) “wants to make Mr. Hall sublimely happy.” And she did –by setting him up in a nice relationship. The outcome was that all of her classmates immediately began reaping the benefits and making better grades! Oh the concepts we grasp from teeny bopper Hollywood hits.
TIME contributor, Marcia Menter commented, “Happiness comes in small moments while you’re pursuing the big stuff. After a while the small moments become the point” and it’s the small celebrations that can get you by when things can get gloomy. Happiness has said to be linked to higher productivity, stronger marriages and more powerful immune systems. Huh…why not give it a go.
Though, the kicker can be “what makes you happy?” Try to make it the right things. I enjoyed the analogy used for those seeking happiness in “not the best ways”/non-lasting (sometimes materialistic) ways. Example: You are so hot and sweaty walking down the street. You pop into a store with incredible A/C blowing all around you. Ahhhhh the relief, right? So magical. But after being in the store for only a few minutes, you have acclimated and it’s just normal. Not as exciting. Yes, that is pleasureful, just not sustainable for “happiness”. Researchers suggest seeking happiness by putting positive charges into your “flow”. Putting into motion acts such as time with friends, exploring outside, reading (whilst sitting in the A/C ;), volunteering—things that make YOU happy—consistently. Keep the happy juices aflow. Make time for them. Keep that groove.
And then there’s LUCK. Being lucky can be as easy as just feeling lucky. I happen to know some “lucky” people in life and it seems that they really do have a more optimistic outlook, whether they really are lucky or not. A report from a 15 year long (?!) study on peoples’ perception of their fate and luck states that people who feel lucky expect better results in life—and thus leading to better outcomes—thus self-fulfilling prophecies. Golfers toting their “lucky charms” playing against those without charms scored much better. Lucky/superstitions can shift the way the brain works in regards to performance, comfort and confidence. So, maybe you still believe that luck is a more mysterious force of nature. Maybe. Though if you can urge your thoughts to have more promise and hope for positive outcomes, the benefits can keep on coming…..even if it’s just a more fun look through the lens.
So this St. Patrick’s Day, if you get a sweet pinch from a jolly little leprechaun, get your emotions in check. Just be jazzed.