Photo by Tengyart / Unsplash

Hello again! I'd like to talk about emotions this week. We all know the part emotions play in our lives. Most of us have been conditioned to assign value to emotions. Some emotions are considered good and desirable (happiness, excitement, joy, etc), and some are considered bad and undesirable (sadness, anger, etc).

I had one such emotion play out and dominate my mind this week, and it got me thinking. Why do we assign value to an emotion? What makes an emotion objectively good or bad? Let's take sadness as an example. Why is sadness considered bad or negative? Because it makes us cry and brood over things? No. I think sadness is considered undesirable because it causes an internal disturbance of peace and makes us feel bad about ourselves or our choices on some level. It is emotionally painful.

Here's a different perspective. I think most of us have misunderstood sadness and other "negative" emotions. Sadness is just nature's way of saying "I have a lesson for you. Here's an opportunity to learn it." Frustration is nature's way of saying "Here's an opportunity to accept reality." Anger is nature's way of saying, "Here's an opportunity for you to calm yourself down."

All emotions are part of life. We are entitled to all our emotions. They are part of our identity. The emotions we feel are just ours, and it affects the feeler the most than any other person. Objectively speaking, there are no good or bad emotions. There are just emotions, and our response to those emotions. Now, the outcomes of these emotions entirely depend on how we respond to those emotions. So, the emotion itself is not good or bad, but only our response to those emotions that are good or bad.

Coming back to our example, a phase of sadness can be turned into a positive experience if we learn from it and make ourselves better from it. If we do this, the outcome is that we are better versions of ourselves. In this case, the occurrence of sadness itself didn't matter. It's a part of life and it's completely normal. What mattered was how you handled it. So instead of thinking "I don't want to be sad" or "I want to avoid getting myself into potentially saddening situations", we can rewire ourself to embrace the sadness, welcome it, try to understand and plan our response to it.

A counter example is something like happiness or excitement. Again, the response to the emotion matters. We are way over our heads in peak moments of happiness, exaltation or excitement and become sad when things turn back to normal. We miss it and long for those "happy days" to come back again. This is an example of a bad response to a "good" emotion. However, if we view it objectively, it's not that your happiness is gone; it's just that you have crossed a phase in your life and now life moves on.

All of this is easier said than done, but we can only try. If you notice the calm people whom you know in your life, they are good at moving on after an emotional phase irrespective of the emotion. They have a sense of mental stability and view emotions objectively. I think this is one of the core traits of emotional intelligence. Next time when we get a rush of a particular emotion, let us try to embrace them and plan our responses accordingly.

The emotions we feel are not in our control, but the responses to them are. Thanks for reading. Cheers!

Vivek Arvind

Vivek Arvind

Santa Clara, CA