WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF OUR FEELINGS?
We all have feelings… all the time. It’s just normal. Almost like breathing, we don’t think about it unless it’s uncomfortable in some way. If we can’t get enough air or if we are out of breath, then we start paying attention to our breathing. It’s quite similar with our feelings. We don’t spend much time noticing them unless we have unpleasant feelings.
The reason we have certain feelings, such as anger, fear, sadness and other less pleasant feelings, has been studied for a long time. Psychologists know that these emotions help us narrow our focus on things that may threaten our very well-being. This focus helps us be alert and prepares us for fight or flight. These emotions help us to survive (to run from danger, fight for our needs). You can read more on so-called ‘negative’ emotions in a previous article Are negative emotions really negative?.
The reason that the more pleasant feelings have survived evolution, wasn’t all too clear until quite recently. The latest studies by Barbara Fredrickson show that there is indeed a very valid reason why we have so called ‘positive’ emotions. Pleasant feelings do the opposite of narrowing our vision, they open us up to see more possibilities, they help us to better connect dots, understand things, remember things, be more creative and innovative. More on ‘positive’ emotions in the previous article What good does it do to focus on positive feelings?.
So really, every emotion we have is here for a reason. Not only that, but they actually even have good intentions. They are here to make us aware of something that might put us in danger or to help us see new possibilities and make the best of ourselves. Either way, from this perspective, it might really be worth taking time to know what we feel and to understand why those feelings have come up.
Achor, S. (2011). The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles that Fuel Success and Performance at Work, Virgin Books
Seligman, M. (2004). Authentic Happiness, Atria Books
Fredrickson, B. (2009). Positivity, Crown Publishing
Photo Credits: Nathalie Berger Photography
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