Happiness is Hand Made

happiness, peace, contentmentWhat is authentic happiness?  I know a lot of people have different ideas about what should make us happy.  But when you start peeling away the layers, it is often not what you think.  It is certainly not money, because honestly, the millionaires who visit my office can be some of the most unhappy people I’ve ever met.  It’s not really relationships because there are people who are adored by millions, have loving spouses and doting children and yet they commit suicide.  It’s not really possessions because objects and material possessions wear out and Continue reading

What Are Emotions Anyway? Part VII

emotions, anger, anxiety, depressionContinued from Part VI

The whole point of this discussion thread is to realize that we put romantic, culture and moral dimensions to emotions when at the core, they are a necessary component to our physical existence and driven by biological needs.  The underpinning of emotions is to get us to take some sort of action, whether this is to quickly and intensely orient toward potential danger or excitement, engage with others for social Continue reading

What Are Emotions Anyway? Part VI

emotions, anger, anxiety, depressionContinued from Part V

Finally, let’s consider love and surprise.  The biological call for action for love is unqualified attachment. The mind and body is driven to attach and protect, often in unreasonable ways, for the purpose of social connection and/or intimacy (i.e., herd behavior) or for protecting offspring.  Unqualified attachment can result in harm to the individual self while pursing social connection or protecting others to whom we Continue reading

What Are Emotions Anyway? Part V

emotions, anger, anxiety, depressionContinued from Part IV

What about the emotional response of interest or excitement?  The biological call for action in this case is engagement, meaning to be interested enough to move toward something and engage with it.  In this case, the mind and body is attracted to and stimulated by self (internal stimulation), another person, an object or interest or an exciting situation or opportunity.  The drive moves you toward, not Continue reading

What Are Emotions Anyway? Part IV

emotions, anger, disgust, anxiety, fear, depression…Continued from Part III

Now let’s consider anger.  The biological call for action with anger is rebellion against or over rejection of a particularly troubling circumstance.  The mind and body perceives the current situation to be so bad or dangerous to the physical or mental self that fight is necessary.  It is the opposite of freeze.  Examples include: Continue reading

What are Emotions Anyway? Part III

emotions, fear, anger, sadness, anxiety…Continued from Part II

Despite the meaning we impose on emotional experience and expression, the reality is that emotions are a biological call for action.  This means that each base emotion arises from and is driven by a need to take some sort of action in service of our physical preservation or well-being.

Continue reading

What Are Emotions Anyway? Part II

emotions, anger, sadness, anxiety…Continued from Part I

In this way, we are taught on a cultural level what is acceptable or expected in terms of emotional expression.  Culture and individual families also make a distinction between what is acceptable for males and females in terms of the recognition and expression of emotions. It may be acceptable for males to express anger, frustration and elation in some cultures, while other emotions are discouraged as not being “manly” such as anxiety, sadness or overt Continue reading

What Are Emotions Anyway? Part I

emotions, fear, anxiety, sadness, angerEmotions are, unfortunately, rather romanticized. Humans tend to focus on the experience of emotions, rather than on their functionality.  Marriages often end because the feeling of romantic love is judged to have faded such that it no longer feels good to be in the relationship.  While we long for some emotions, such as love and happiness, we we overtly fear or detest other emotions such as anger or anxiety or sadness.  Worse yet, we criticize ourselves and others over what emotions  are  being  experienced  or  how  they are  being  expressed. Continue reading

When There is No “Why”

sadness, tragedy, hardshipBecause we live in an imperfect world with imperfect people, we will be hurt by others and by unfortunate circumstances.  It is a fact of life that is no more escapable than the fact of death.  So it is important to develop a healthy way of dealing with pain and sorrow without it scarring our faith and locking us into a cage of bitterness that will, after all, eventually corrupt all Continue reading