We live by emotions and ideas. Emotions drive what we feel about people and what we think about issues and circumstances. Emotions grow and die. Emotions colour our life giving it meaning and purpose. So what are emotions? A recent study that has been publishes in the Proceedings of National Academy of sciences, by Cowen and Keltner (2017) identify 27 distinct emotions-in alphabetical order with no extra emphasis on any particular emotion. These are:
Admiration, Adoration, Aesthetic appreciation, Amusement, Anxiety, Awe, Awkwardness, Boredom, Calmness, Confusion, Craving, Disgust, Empathetic Pain, Entrancement, Envy, Excitement, Fear, Horror, Interest, Joy, Nostalgia, Romance, Sadness, Satisfaction, Sexual Desire, Sympathy, Triumph. Different types of people such as bullies maybe fearful and envious. Understanding emotions and how people act on them is a very important facet of management and leadership and also for understanding relationships. Understanding emotions and facial expressions that link what a person is thinking has been Dr. Paul Ekman’s lifetime work. He has advised Presidents and even the television series Lie to Me based on facial expressions that indicate what emotion a person is experiencing. In 2016, Dr. Paul Ekman, in collaboration with the Dalai Lama developed the Atlas of Emotions (www.atlasofemotions.org ). This tool is a very valuable and free, allowing you to understand what drives emotions and for you to be able to gain better control over your emotions by understanding what triggers them. For a fuller discussion By Dr. Ekman and Dr. Eva Ekman on how this Atlas was created please see (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaDzUFL9CLE).
Plutchick created the wheel of Emotions. These emotions are captured in the following diagram. Understanding these emotions and the opposites of the emotions lie at a better grasp of leadership and in developing a good EQ (Emotional Quotient)
Understanding your emotions and controlling them effectively have been part of spiritual philosophy ranging from Yoga to, Taoism and Buddhism. For instance Patanjali’s Sutra 33 says:
In relation to happiness, misery, virtue and vice, by cultivating the attitudes of friendliness, compassion, gladness and indifference respectively, the mind becomes purified and peaceful. (From Swami Satyananda, Four Chapters on Freedom-Bihar School of Yoga).
By cultivating equanimity we tend to be compassionate towards the negative feelings and become less disturbed by adverse feelings. Equanimity is a calm balance of the mind that is attainment by inner understanding of feelings and emotions. Developing mindfulness and awareness of emotions we can move forward in life and attain better leadership skills and understanding of others improving our EQ (Emotional Quotient).
Is there any scientific logic to all this thinking? Well yes there is. For years the spiritually based philosophies have emphasized he need for understanding the spine and the gut. The importance of this is stressed in many treatises on Yoga. Recent research indicates that there is a second brain, which consists of sheaths of neurons embedded in the walls of our gut. These neurons are linked to the brain in complex ways, especially along the vagus nerve from the gut to the brain. According to Mayer (2016), ‘ A big part of our emotions are probably influenced by the nerves in our gut”. This system also relies on a healthy gut, which is also generally controlled by trillions of good bacteria within the walls of the intestine. So the next time you have a ‘gut feeling’ you should pay attention to it and understand the key emotions at play, which are ultimately linked to the brain. Understanding emotions and developing insights into them is an effective way to balance the mind and body and to attain better interaction with fellow beings and the environment. Getting to a state of Equanimity requires a greater balance in life and being cognizant of the two brains that we possess and how each brain can interact with the other creating a balance or imbalance of emotions.
Cowen, A.S., and Keltner, D. (2017) Self –report captures 27 distinct categories of emotion bridged by continuous gradients. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114 (38), E7900-E7909
Mayer, E. (2016) The Mind-Gut Connection, HarperCollins New York
Swami Satyananda Saraswati (2008) Four Chapters on Freedom, Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, Bihar, India
Plutchik, R. (1991) The Emotions. University Press of America