The word emotion derives from the French word “esmovoir” which means “to excite.” For centuries viewed as the opposite of reason and intellect, today emotion is viewed by most researchers as part of the complex intellectual capacity of the human mind. Noted neurobiologist and theorist Antonio Damasio describes emotions as complicated collections of chemical and neural responses designed to aid our ability to stay alive. Far from random or irrational, emotions are organized responses that play an essential role in our ability to respond and adapt to internal and external events.
Emotions are the language of the human species –an experience shared by all people from all cultures, nationalities and walks of life. Expressed feelings allow us to connect to others on personal level, and allow others to see us as we really are. Conversely, hiding our emotions robs us of our humanity, and deprives us of the intimacy, closeness, compassion and caring that make life worthwhile.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.
― Helen Keller
How fluent are you in the language of emotion? While science says there are only seven basic emotions –anger, fear, sadness, joy, disgust, contempt and surprise, we humans combine these emotions into a complex lexicon of almost limitless feelings, feeling states and moods. Take a quick look at this list of emotions, and put a mark next to those that resonate most strongly with you. Then, over the next few days, keep a log of how each one of them affects you in your day-to-day life. Examining your emotions this way will help you to gain a better understanding of how your feelings affect your behavior, your mood, your relationships, and your overall satisfaction and quality of life.