How do you know if something is a feeling or an emotion?
Do any of us actually know how or why we got here? We all have many things in common, such as a body, the parts inside of it, and what makes up our consciousness. We all are a little different, all seven billion+ of us. The coolest part of life, in my opinion, is that there is an infinite number of ways to express your feelings and emotions. Words, painting, music, business, research, gifts, questions, lessons, athletics, and on the other side, criminal, dangerous, or harmful activity to yourself and others. These are a general grouping, but the point is that we have so many ways to show our interpretation of life. But how do we know what we are expressing, and how do we know if our actions align with what is going on inside?
Neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris ( Who I think looks kinda like Tarek from Flip or Flop) says in the previous link that “…There are a hundred billion neurons in the brain, in a cubic centimeter of brain tissue, there are more connections than stars in our galaxy, and yet our inner experience offers absolutely no clue that this is the case.” That statement right there truly fascinates me and brings on a whole book of questions. There is a lot of truth to what he has to say, as we would have no idea what is going on inside of us from listening to our thoughts and feelings alone. I have been on a search to find the connection between our physical bodies and our subjective (and universal) consciousness. There has to be more than what we know now.
“Feeling” is defined by Google is an “emotional state or reaction.” “Emotion” is defined as “a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.” Just from 3 seconds looking these words up, raises a dozen questions. What is the difference between an emotional state and a reaction? What is the difference between an action and reaction? Why are emotions instinctual, and what does it mean to act instinctively? How is an emotion, something we feel, a state of mind, as “mindset” is seen as what we think? Our minds aren’t ever actually “seen” but rather interpreted and perceived through all senses, including feelings. By the end of my life, this subject and subtopics will be much easier to navigate and understand. I hope.
What are you going to want your 80-year-old self to look back on? Better yet, what will you want to look forward to?
Every day, we seem to feel like life is moving by quickly, or it is dragging as we stare at the stopped clock. Depending on our moods, (or feelings, if you will) time seems to pass us by at different rates. Eventually, we get to a point where we pause and reflect. If you are tactile and present, I suggest you do this often. I do this every night with journaling and meditation, and this has not only helped me organize my thoughts but also get a better understanding of what my thoughts and emotions were for the day. When I am 80, I am excited to see how many pages I can fill. When I get there, or to a point where I can no longer write, I am going to wonder how many of the little memories I recorded were valuable, and how many things I could have or should written about that I did not.
I have been what seems like an emotional mess, for my entire life. All twenty years, even just the past week, I find myself going back and forth on the ups and downs of the emotional roller coaster. This back and forth has toned down tremendously from where I was several years ago, through a change in diet, environment, people, and slowly cultivating a more positive mindset. Some key points that I have learned along the way are much more difficult than they appear, and I encourage you to try them:
- We cannot control our emotions, no matter how hard we try. Feelings are like heartbeats; they are there until they aren’t, and we have very little say in what they do.
- We can control our actions, or how we respond to how we feel. Starting to pay attention to action is like trying to catch a fly; slowing down and paying attention is key.
- Thoughts stand in the middle and are comparative to breathing; both voluntary and involuntary. It is imperative that your involuntary thoughts are just as helpful as the deliberate ones.
It seems like a long time between now and eighty, but before you know it, school is over, loved ones die, you’re on your third or fourth pet, the kids are moved out, and then you’re a grandparent. Of course, this isn’t the path for everyone and is only one example, but the point is that life is short. In the grand scheme of forever, even the longest living person is but a speck on the span of eternity. What are you going to do with your time? What is most valuable to you?
Life takes funny twists and turns, and yet it all works out if we let it.
One thing I have learned many, many times is that life is weird, and limitless with surprises. Just when we think we have it all figured out, sitting high on our throne, the legs give out from under us, bringing us to the ground. Just when it feels like we can’t take any more pain and suffering, something beautiful and marvelous happens. One lesson I have learned from listening to Tim Ferriss and Gary Vaynerchuk (among many others) is that failure, mistakes, and bad choices all have blessings in disguise. All of my greatest lessons in life have come from the screw ups and dumb decisions. From a grand picture, we human beings only seem to grow from anguish.
A huge, enormous, mega problem that I have had is finding the grey area in everything, emotions, and responses to conversation especially. My brain naturally likes to see life as black and white, and while in the macro this is true, there a plethora of grey in each moment. There are millions, billions of ways to interpret every situation, as each of our subjective experiences are all slightly different. Learning how and when to let go of the past, of hurtful and painful experiences has tremendously helped me move forward in a positive direction. But how do we know if something is let go? Let us save that one for next time.
For now, if you have trouble letting something go, be patient with yourself. The fact that you are reading these words shows you that you have already taken a step towards a life of patience and kindness. Being patient just means being aware of your breathing, paying attention to the simplest of actions that you can control every second. Letting go means practicing non-attachment, which translates to becoming the observer of yourself so that your emotions do not rule your life. When we can master how we respond and act based on choice, rather than pure emotion, we begin to decide our own lives. Partaking in this does not mean never to make decisions until you have analyzed every piece of data; information is infinite, and you will never know it all. Being deliberate and considerate of your actions means taking your life into your own hands, and owning all of your problems. If you would like a recommendation of where to start, click here.
We cannot choose the circumstances we were born into, but we can decide what we do with it. Being happy, being successful in life (whatever you determine “successful” to be) is up to you, day by day. If you want something, go work for it. Find the smartest, most efficient route and plan of action, and put the same effort into it in the beginning as you do the end. Starting to take control of your life requires you to slow down your actions, take a good hard look at your current thoughts and feelings, and to map out the life you wish to live. Your attitude, your perspective on life, determines how you act. Thus, attitude answers the question, “Who am I?”
If you found anything particularly intriguing or confusing in this article, feel free to leave a rebuttal, question, or comment down below. I hope you cultivate a smile in someone else today!