are emotions important?

One of the biggest realizations I’ve had this year is that my emotions are not important. Not that I should control them, or manage them better… but that they literally do not matter. At best, they’re useful feedback tools. At worst, they can destroy your life, your relationships, and everything you care for.

Think about how many emotions you experience on a given day. You’re hungry, and find yourself getting annoyed with countless little things. You’re quicker to anger, quicker to point out the negative.

Or, the sun is shining. You feel warm, happy. You’re smiling, the world is fun and inviting.

Two very different emotions, both influencing every action you take while you’re experiencing them, and both stemming from inputs completely outside of your control.

Emotions are influenced by blood sugar, how well-rested you are, the weather, how well your last interaction went, your blood flow, heart rate, sunlight, how recently you’ve eaten, nutrient levels in your bloodstream… so many different things. They arise, dissipate, change and fluctuate hundreds of times throughout the day.

Yet, at each stage, we still assign them importance. Why?

After meditating and reflecting on this idea, it seems silly to ascribe such great importance to things so fickle. To forces we can’t control or even understand.

This has been the biggest benefit I’ve seen from meditation: the ability to view emotions as separate from you. I am not angry: I’m feeling angry. I am not happy: I’m  feeling happy.

This is why, when I now feel the pull of a strong emotion, I try to remind myself… I am not this emotion. This emotion is not important, nor is it something I have to engage in. This too, will pass.

When I can do it, I’m a heck of a lot happier for it.

One response

  1. I think we can learn to control our emotions the same way we control our motor functions. It’s pretty plain to see. Whatever we can monitor with any kind of bio / neuro – feedback equipment, we can then learn to get a feel for – and subsequently gain control over – whatever it is we’re measuring. More practice = increased dexterity.

    If we were able to monitor live testosterone levels for example, we’d probably notice that if we made ourselves feel anger (and we can do this without thinking of anything in particular) our Test levels would increase. If we added things like cortisol to the interface, I’m sure we could pretty easily learn to refine that feeling to the point where we gain a direct control over Test levels.

    Conversely, and for the sake of general self improvement, I just model it as such: we are a sphere of consciousness / knowledge surrounded by a jelly-like substance of subconscious emotion that colors how we perceive the world around it. This conscious sphere and surrounding emotion are what makes up us as a person. As babies we consist mostly of that jelly-like substance, and as we get older and gain and understanding of things, that substance solidifies into knowledge.
    Most people stop after they hit adulthood and remain in relative stasis, but there isn’t any need to.

    Tl;dr the more knowledge we have of something, the less room there is for emotion – and the more we apply that knowledge, the less room there is for outside sources to control our circumstances.

    I’ll be applying to your job btw.

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