Emotions are not just a matter of physiological arousal or facial expression; they are also commonly influenced by our interpretations of the emotion-arousing event.
Fear is sometimes a poisonous emotion. Fear can torment us, rob us of sleep, and restrict and distract our thinking. But more often, it can be an adaptive response. Fear prepares our body to flee danger. Fear of real or imagined enemies binds people together as families, tribes and nations.
People can be afraid of almost anything – « afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, etc. »
Although we seem biologically predisposed to acquire some fears, we can learn some of them by observational learning. But it is our experience that helps us shape fearlessness or fearfulness as well as do our genes.
Anger is said by the sages to be « a short madness »(Horace, 65-8 B.C.) that « carries the mind away » (Virgil, 70-19 B.C.) and can be « many times more hurtful than the injury that caused it » (Thomas Fuller, 1654-1734). But other sages say that anger « makes any coward brave » (Cato, 234-149 B.C.)
And « brings back his strength » (Virgil), so it may be « noble anger » (William Shakespeare, 1564-1616).
What makes us angry? Often the anger is a response to the perceived misdeed of a friend or loved one. Anger is especially common when the other person’s act is considered to willful, unjustified, and avoidable.
What do people do with their anger? What should they do with it? Sometimes people prefer to express anger as expressing emotion results in emotional release, or catharsis. Thecatharsis hypothesis maintains that anger is reduced after one releases it through aggressive action or fantasy.
But expressing anger can also breed more anger, magnify it.
How should one best handle anger? Anger experts offer several suggestions. First, bring down the physiological arousal of anger by waiting. Second, deal with anger in a way that involves neither being chronically angry over every little annoyance nor passively sulking, which is merely rehearsing one’ reasons for anger. At the same time, anger can benefit relationships – when the grievance is expressed in ways that promote reconciliation rather than retaliation. Civility means not only keeping silent about trivial irritations but also communicating important ones clearly and assertively.
Happiness – what is it? « How to gain, how to keep, how to recover happiness is in fact for most men at all times the secrete motive for all they do », observed William James (1902). Understandably so, for one’s state of happiness or unhappiness colors everything else. People who are happy perceive the world as less dangerous, make decisions more easily, and report greater satisfaction with their whole life. A good mood boosts people’s perceptions of the world and their willingness to help others. But the moods triggered by the day’s good or bad events seldom last more than that day. Even seemingly significant good events, such as substantial raise in income, seem not to increase happiness for long. The apparent relativity of happiness can be explained by the adaptation-level and relative-deprivation principles. According to the first principle, our judgments (of sound, of lights, of income, and so forth) are relative to a « neural » level that is based on our prior experience. Relative-deprivation principle states that it is possible to perceive that one is worse off relative to those with whom one compares oneself and all this influences our mood. Nevertheless, some people are usually happier than others, and researchers have found out that there are some factors that can predict happiness. They are high self-esteem, a satisfying marriage or other love relationship, a meaningful religious faith, being socially outgoing, good sleep, exercises, employment. This, when all above-mentioned factors take place in your life, surely, you are happy.
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