Emotions are misleading — some can also pollute our brains. In a pioneering leap, the Dalai Lama fused a lofty task with top Western psychologists. He planned to set religion aside. The primary aim? He tries to help make us more self-conscious, caring. If we can learn to handle our (destructive) feelings, we can maintain balance and inner-peace.
“Anyone who may rage you becomes your master. “—Epictetus.
Our feelings form our lives, not just our thinking. In Western culture, though, controlling our feelings is synonymous with spiritual and social engagement, not being healthy. Unlike Buddhists, feelings are not a path to a harmonious inner-life.
So what occurs as we merge science and Buddhism? The Dalai Lama noticed out.
Western research has assessed what mental hygiene looks like for ages — unfortunately, most research have produced discord among experts, not cohesion.
The Dalai Lama imagined “a diagram of our feelings to build a peaceful mind.” He requested renowned scientist of emotion, Dr. Paul Ekman, to understand his concept but to escape religion.
Ekman’s first move was seeking a common ground amongst scientists — his study offered a basic basis for how emotions function. The plurality of specialists agree:
Emotions are universal — facial gestures are identical across societies.
We all feel five simple emotions: rage, terror, disgust, sorrow, pleasure.
Emotion causes uniformly
The Five Emotions — Source: http:/atlasofemotions.org
We get upset when someone prevents us or when we’re poorly punished. Sadness is a failure response — feeling depressed helps one to take time off to show people we need help.
Feeling dissatisfied by what’s unhealthy lets one stop getting poisoned — physically or emotionally. Our apprehension of risk makes us predict security threats. Enjoyment explains the multiple positive emotions in novel and common encounters.
Internal thoughts; public feelings.
According to Dr. Paul Ekman, UCSF Professor of Psychology, we may recognise somebody’s feeling, but not the thinking that triggered it. He cites someone who is afraid when captured. Is he scared that he is trapped or innocent?
Emotions are an immediate brain response — we don’t pick them.
So where are feelings devastating?
Science suggests all feelings are normal and okay, and feelings just become negative when communicated incorrectly. For eg, it’s common to feel grief when someone dies, however unnecessarily a suicidal individual is sad.
On the other side, Buddhism claims destructive feelings are obstacles — we must conquer them to find peace.
Constructive emotions strengthen a situation; negative emotions render things worse.
The Atlas of Emotions reflects what scholars have discovered by researching emotion. It allows us to understand our emotions — how they are activated, what they feel, and how we should react.
Dr. Ekman, a former advisor in Pixar’s “Inside Out” film, remembered the Dalai Lama saying: “If we decided to get to the New World, we needed a map. So make a chart of feelings so we can be cool.
Source: Emotion Atlas
Our emotions unfold on a timeline — they originate with a stimulus that initiates emotional experience and eventually contributes to a reaction.
The cause takes place in a framework described by our situations and emotions, occurrence itself, and worldview. The same stimuli will lead to different reactions.
For eg, we can inhibit anger at work, but demonstrate our anger by shouting at a family member at home. Suppression of emotions may produce a short-term win — like stopping an argument — but may become damaging if you’re damaged from not thinking for yourself.
“What begins in indignation finishes in shame. “—Benjamin Franklin.
Not all feelings are equal — their forms and intensities differ. Annoyance, for example, is a moderate expression of rage, whereas indignation is the intense variant of the same emotion.
Various manifestations of anger — Atlas of emotion
Our personal awareness affects our understanding of a situation — with our thoughts, we process individuals and incidents. Your response will cause emotion harmful.
Emotions are a signal — they may deter risk, or bother you.
Our answer is the emotional timeline’s last — and most important — element. Although regulating our emotions isn’t always straightforward, certain reactions are more damaging than others. Rather than responding, we must try to recognise our feelings.
“In the past, sympathy was a symbol of vulnerability, or indignation, a symbol of power. Human existence is more humane. That’s the true foundation of our ambition.
Destructive feelings, according to Daniel Goldman, apply to a feeling that can affect us and others, either psychologically or physically. While most prevalent are rage, paralysing terror, and depression, almost any emotion will hurt. Craving and addiction — even an intense search of happiness — can be catastrophic.
Emotions distort our capacity to reason logically, making finding the correct answer harder. There’s a “refractory phase” when a damaging emotion arises — we don’t allow fresh insight into our heads, instead we keep rehashing a single emotion.
Length and distance enable one make easier decisions.
Taking the example of a colleague who always comes late. Maybe he / she is intentionally undermining you and taking all he / she does as a personal assault. Therapy, consciousness, and reflection prepare our minds to reduce the refractory period — we learn to focus instead of getting blinded by our emotions.
By growing self-awareness, we learn to hesitate and pick a positive response.
The Anti-Destructive Feelings
Scientists found that persistent negative feelings would trigger long-term damage.
That’s the case with people suffering from pessimistic animosity, a phenomenon characterised by high rage and repetitive thinking that can’t be trusted. People with pessimistic animosity appear to develop more chronic problems and also die earlier.
Antidote of negative emotion is positive.
To overcome rage, hate, and terror, we must cultivate humility, affection, and patience. Destructive feelings are impulsive, focused on myths and illogical motives. Constructive feelings are realistic — based on valid observation and logic.
We advocate using valid logic to establish a mental condition to combat negative emotions. Love, for example, must be established by logic as an answer to rage.
“Calm mind contributes to peace of mind”—Dalai Lama
Photograph by Peter Hershey
Constructive feelings result in a relaxed mind — we perceive and feel things more clearly and realistically. What breaks a relaxed mind? Fear, distrust, hate, rage, envy, over-ambition.
The Dalai Lama argues that “As we teach about physical hygiene for good health, we also need to teach about emotional hygiene.”
Dr. Mark Greenberg, professor at Pennsylvania State University, trains small children , particularly rage, how to control their disruptive emotions. His method helps children slow down — decrease the refractory cycle — and become more mindful of their and others’ emotional states.
The curriculum coaches kids to address their emotions as a means to fix issues, prepare accordingly to prevent obstacles, and be mindful of their negative impact on others.
Kids begin to distinguish distinct feelings and opposites. They use a series of cards featuring various expressive facial features, so people realise how they behave. Greenberg’s method teaches feelings are powerful signs, but we must remain rational to act properly.
The Dalai Lama coined the word Emotional Wellbeing to enable us to manage indignation, resentment, and anxiety. Bad feelings clutter our mind — we have to wash them clean.
The spiritual leader insists that while controlling negative feelings, we must also foster constructive ones. Though they might not be available in the heat of the moment, optimistic feelings create a strong foundation—they improve the ’emotional defence system.’
Scientists believe that while we always practise constructive, our behaviour transforms for the best.
Developing Mental Hygiene
Like studying physical hygiene norms, we must improve emotional hygiene. Start by improving your emotional awareness — you want to recognise, not get rid of, the feelings.
1. Recognizing feelings
Take time to evaluate the feelings. How you feel? What’s your experience? Naming feelings is the first step to raising understanding.
Learn to discriminate your feelings — some people associate anxiety with rage. Know how each emotion emerges. The post below will help dig further into any emotion.
Why your feelings will degrade your performance
Are you watching your feelings?
2. Knowing the reasons
Understand what’s throwing you off. Recognize the signs that can influence your decision. Can some specific case, context, or individual normally cause destructive emotions?
Study and use the Cognitive Timeline to draw on the reactions.
Emotional response cause [compliance]
What you’ve learned? What’d you do differently every time? Why? Why?
3. Link the body
Our facial expression is not about how we express our thoughts. Recognize how the body’s emotions impact. Note shifts in the breathing rhythm, heart rate, muscle tension, skin irritation, etc.
Our body is a great emotional conductor — notice the well-being and reactions. Learn to eliminate stresses or stop hurting the body by creating room until you act — do not allow feelings build dangerous habits.
4. Manage reactions
Focus about how you respond to a particular situation? Learn to pause before answering. Emotions typically produce a rapid reflex response, we leave space for thinking by preparing our brains until our emotions hijack our actions.
The following activities are a perfect start to help you stop, think and feel more present.
21 Easy activities to boost the concentration
Small start. Start someplace.
5. Adjust and understand
Emotional wellbeing involves learning to correctly interpret, appraise, and convey feelings. Your emotion-management capacity not only enhances well-being and social relationships, it also helps resolve restricting habits including procrastination.
Training the mind isn’t a straight path — it takes constant preparation and adaptation. If you’re frustrated, learn to control the rage. To behave more skillfully, you must let go of the feeling.
Training can enhance your capacity, but don’t get discouraged when returning to overreacting mode. Patient, kind to yourself.
A clean mind provides room for caring, kindness, and enjoyment. Antidote of negative feelings is mental safety.
The Atlas of Emotions is an useful visual aid for familiarising the feelings. Play with. The dynamic chart helps you to toggle from emotional timeline recognition to discovering the various levels and phrases.