Emotions are the driving force of any human being, everyday we go through events that can either arouse our emotions or suppress them. Our store of emotions is a double edged sword since it can both help our lives or ruin it depending on how effectively it is put into use. We go as far as our emotions and our minds take us to when reacting to various occurrences in life. Regardless of how tough or strong we claim to be, our emotions are the strongest point one can capitalize on to exploit us or direct us and it is rather foolish to pretend as though we do not feel anything.
Your emotional health is your overall psychological well being including the way you feel about yourself, the richness of your relationships and your ability to manage your feelings and deal with difficulties.
- Examples Of Emotions
There are some major emotions we experience rampantly, some of which include anger, surprise, fear, sadness, happiness. Others are either combination of these major emotions or variations in terms of trigger or response. Examples include pride, guilt, embarrassment, contempt etc. In this piece, we will consider the major emotions we possess;
This is the most dynamic and forceful emotion, people usually regard it as an undesirable state of mind. It usually leaves one with a sense of guilt and regret after its expression. We have all gone through one bad experience when we probably let ourselves get drifted away by fury and later regretted our conduct when we have calmed down.
Controlling ones anger is perhaps the greatest challenge in one's quest to reach self control. In the journey through anger management plan, one has to get used to the idea that there will always be series of failures at the beginning unless you are a Buddhist monk who has trained his mind and body over years and is now impervious to any provocation.
Society itself prompts us to conduct ourselves aggressively in our interaction with others because we live in a time of competition and we easily get provoked or angered at one's action towards us. In the case of a heated dispute and you flare up easily, you risk making yourself look contemptible in front of your acquaintances.
The expression of anger is comparatively difficult to hide, there are signs that indicate anger ranging from the facial expression to the tone of one's voice. In the case of facial expression, the brows are lowered and drawn together. The eyes have a piercing gaze and the lips are pressed firmly together. It is also accompanied by a rise in the pitch of the voice, the higher the pitch, the more intense the anger.
This is apparently the most fleeting emotion since it comes in a second and get dismissed fast. It expresses astonishment when something unexpected happens to us. We are likely surprised by unexpected events that occur around us. Surprise is seen as a neutral emotion because it triggers or give room for another emotions.
As with all emotions, surprise is differently perceived by each individuals. Some people can welcome surprises while others prefer not to be caught unawares.
In terms of facial expression, surprise makes us drop our jaws (depending on its intensity, open our mouth as well), widen our eyes and raise our brows. Fake surprise is usually exposed by the length of expression because genuine surprises only last for a second or few. Pretending to be surprised poses a difficult task, especially when we try to present ourselves as ignorant of a particular piece of information or situation.
Happiness is doubtlessly the most enjoyable emotion of all. Some philosophers actually claim that the sole purpose of our existence is the pursuit of happiness.
What makes us feel happy? Clearly everyone has their own pleasures and passions that generate a sense of fulfillment within them. Happiness is triggered by the convergence between our desires and reality. As a natural response, whenever a desire is satisfied, the “reward mechanism” of our brains is activated, that is, the hormones responsible for our state of well-being are released and, as a result, we will feel happy. Happiness can be of many kinds, such as excitement, relief, contentment, ecstasy, amazement or gratitude. Each of them is triggered basically by the same universal trigger, which is the fulfillment of our goals.
It should again be stressed, that the sooner you
acquire a trigger of a particular emotion, the stronger it will be throughout your life. In my childhood, there was a bakery close to where we stayed and I was always delighted by the enticing scent of their bread. Since then, whenever I come across such a smell, I feel happy. Needless to say that it is not the mere odor that triggers happiness, but all the memories that are attached to it, the way I used to save up just to afford the bread, the way I sneaked out just to watch them bring the bread out freshly from the oven and all other memories accompanied with it.
You can easily spot a happy person, usually just
by casting a glance at his/her face, smiling or laughing, the corners of the lips pulled up and wrinkles around the eyes. Usually, you can tell when somebody is faking a smile, by observing whether these wrinkles emerge.
A French neurologist, Duchenne de Boulogne, was the first to conduct a serious study on smiles, over a century ago. He wanted to find out which muscles are activated when we smile. For this purpose, he used as subject a man who couldn’t feel pain in his facial tissues, so that his facial muscles could be electrically stimulated, without him being harmed. According to Duchenne’s findings, when the subject was artificially stimulated, his smile didn’t look genuine. Conversely, when he was told a joke, his smile seemed to have gained more credibility. From the pictures taken of both situations, Duchenne concluded that it was the muscles around the eyes that gave away the true nature of a smile.
Therefore, while the lips can be manipulated to draw a smile, it is our eyes that reveal the authenticity of our smiles. The other segment of these muscles, located between our eyebrows and our lids, remains, however, motionless in a grin. In a genuine big smile, our brows would slightly drop, as a sign of contraction of this segment too. Therefore, when somebody exhibits just a soft smile, without too much extension over the face, it is sufficient to watch whether wrinkles form on the face.
One more thing about happiness: it is one of
those four emotions, along with anger, sadness, and fear, that can drive somebody into a crisis when reaching their highest peak. When you are elated, intoxicated with joy, you are seized with a very powerful sensation, which overtakes all components of the body and can prompt you to take any action without proper consideration.
Fear is generally activated by an impending
threat or a dangerous situation in which we suddenly find ourselves.
Life devoid of fear would be dreadful. Imagine
you weren’t afraid of anything. While at the wheel, a driver coming from the opposite direction loses control of the vehicle and heads straight towards you. Overly brave as you would be, you won’t turn the wheel and end up in a terrible collision.
Certainly, such things don’t happen in real life, because there is fear of death embedded in all living species.
Once I waited for my sister to come back home from school. The time when she usually shows up had passed and she didn't tell me she would be late. In the first minutes I got to worry about her and didn't realize that there were a lot of possible explanations for the small delay. The idea of her having been held up at school because of a class activity in which she is taking part did not enter my mind.
After an hour of uneasiness, I began to panic, The more time I spent without having any clear answer to my fear that arouse questions, the more the fear grew such that it got difficult to maintain a reflective state of mind.
Finally, when she came back, my fear vanished and another emotion set in, I began to feel furious towards her. Usually, you would first feel a wave of relief, immediately after seeing the person safe and sound. Afterwards, you are likely to be flooded with anger or sadness or both.
You could be angry with your offspring, because
she caused you panic and fear by not having informed you of being late. The more frightened you were while on tenterhooks, the more upset you are now with her thoughtlessness. This is perfectly understandable. Once the trigger of fear is gone and you learn that he/she is out of any problem, the fear-triggering event turns itself into an enraging one. And your reaction reflects this change: instead of fretting and pacing the floor, you are now ready to give the child a proper warning or beating.
At its most extreme point, fear causes panic
attacks that can lead to fainting or hypertension in the long run. There are also cases when people have literally died of fear. It's obvious we can’t run from our fears all our lives. Sooner or later, we have to pluck up courage and face them. This is what the treatment of phobias consists of confronting the patients with the origin of their fears and anxieties.
The facial expression for fear can be easily
mistaken for sadness, even though there are differences between them. With fear, the brows are fully raised and drawn together, while the grieving brows only lift their inner corners. The upper eyelid is raised, while the lower one is tensed when experiencing fear.
Lastly, lip corners are drawn back with scared
Sadness is an emotion experienced when not in a state of well being. People do respond differently to the same emotional experience. Nevertheless, it is almost impossible not to show at least a small sign of grief on your face when you lose a loved one or when things do not work out as planned. As it happens when we smile, there are muscles we cannot control voluntarily. These muscles will always be activated when we feel the corresponding emotion. It’s the same with sadness. Some muscles that produce a sad expression will inevitably be activated, if our feelings are genuine. Therefore, we should see at least a slight lift of the inner brow or the droping of the corner of the mouth, in order to believe that the person is genuinely grieving. As for the ability to manage your emotions, I doubt very much that you will ever be able to maintain a poker face when your partner passes away or when you lose a job or a family member.
The more intense the bond, the deeper the grief
Sadness also has negative experience, It is usually accompanied with depression. Scores and scores of people suffer from it nowadays, because they fail to keep elude the effects of excessive grief.
Usually, depression follows a period of very deep distress, however depression is not classified as an emotion, rather as a mood that is triggered by an emotion. In this type
of situation, you are in dire need of outside help.
Friends, family or physicians can bring you back on track before it’s too late. Suicide is most often chosen as the ultimate solution by people suffering from depression.
In terms of facial expression, sadness has the
following traits: corners of the inner brows go up, lip corners go down, in a U-shape, the upper eyelids drop and the lower lip might be pushed up in a pout. When the sadness is very intense, our lower face may look as if we are smiling, since our lip corners are pushed up. Whenever a distressing event arrives that affects us directly, meaning that we have lost something much cherished or craved for, we tend to get entangled in those thoughts that can feed our grief.
What Triggers Our Emotions
Most importantly, we need to understand that
every human behavior is primarily shaped by a genetic inheritance. Afterwards,
it is our interaction with the surrounding environment that takes over the fine-tuning of our nature. Scientists usually approach this matter as the opposition between the inborn and the learnt side of our personality characteristics.
Consider the four main temperamental
Choleric(domineering, obstinate, ambitious, leader)
(pessimistic, easily distraught, perfectionist, organized)
Sanguine (easily distracted, craving audience, optimistic, sprightly)
Phlegmatic (lazy, untroubled, calm,
We did not decide which combination we wanted to be. We inherited the temperament from our parents. Yet, through education and later through self-monitoring, We can try to adjust our temperamental profile. For instance, melancholic-choleric persons will find it easier to keep in check their proneness to rage-driven actions, typical for cholerics, especially since the melancholic traits give them a hand in inner-focus. What I’m saying is that we all have faults
of temperament, but, at the same time, we are also endowed with the necessary tools to correct them.
All emotions are triggered by a specific impetus, and we respond in a certain way. What you should bear in mind is that all men around the world react to the same triggers. We all respond to fear triggers, words or actions that can facilitate anger, loss that prompts grief and sadness and other emotional triggers.
Likewise, universal triggers are ascribed to universal responses, that is, we all respond the same way to the same trigger. For instance, everybody is overwhelmed with grief when their parents pass away. Their demise represents the universal trigger for sadness.
In connection to this, we need to understand that the universality of emotional triggers
and responses is modified, up to an extent, by some peculiarities in each individual. This means that while we are all subject to the same universal triggers and respond, generally speaking, the same way, we do have some uniquely personal ways of displaying our
emotions. This uniqueness issues form how each of us interprets the content of the universal trigger and how we interpret the universal response patterns. The way two siblings respond to an occurrence can not be the same because of temperamental differences and environmental influences and that implies that all individuals respond to various emotional triggers differently.