Val is a life-long practically oriented student of effective emotional and attitudinal responses to the many challenges of life.
Opting for Entirely New Game of Life
After the last card seems to have been dealt to us in this whimsical game of life, we still have a chance to ask ourselves if perhaps we are in a wrong game -- rather than if we are playing this game right.
Namely, do we really have to feel at the mercy of that hand that is dealt to us? A closer look may bring us to a life saving realization how that "bad hand of cards" is not nearly as much about the unfavorable circumstances, as it is about the way we are emotionally processing them.
Well, folks, the whole life is just about how we feel. We may become famous billionaires and feel downright miserable, or in another extreme be some drifting gypsies and celebrate life with each breath.
But, why then do we live as if exactly those circumstances are determining the quality of our emoting? The answer is simple -- because everybody else is like that.
Since the time we are born, they teach us how to be copies of those around and the rest of the world. They tell us when it's appropriate to feel good, and when crappy is more likely to be the right emotional response.
Like all mammals, we do as the herd does, and someone even came up with that funny one -- "Monkey see, monkey do". It doesn't seem to matter to us much that in so many instances it doesn't work for us. Hey, no one likes an oddball, and we need to be liked.
When on a typical Monday morning I would come to work non-intrusively whistling some happy tune, my boss would approach to me and say: "Hey Val, you are getting on everyone's nerves. Remember, it's Monday morning, you're supposed to feel miserable".
Luckily, that kind of orders couldn't cost me my job for not being obeyed, so I kept getting on everyone's nerves, adding an idiotic grin to it to make myself extra hated.
What's left to be explained is, why the hell didn't I act like everyone else? Why did I choose to be happy?
Well, because I could.
Conscious vs. Unconscious Emoting
Would you be willing to believe that what we feel at any given moment could be a result of a conscious choice?
Yes, any feeling imaginable is available from our emotional repertoire to be activated, regardless of a current situation or life circumstance. What I said before explains why we don't practice it already.
Namely, because no one else is talking about it. Everyone is fascinated with the word spontaneity, and a notion of choosing an emotion calls for words like "artificial", "phony" "insincere", "unauthentic". Right?
Wrong. No one is calling an athletic runner a "phony", because they can run ridiculously faster than we can. And then, we all actually try to feel good in life, meaning that we are "producing" our good feelings with help of this or that possession, this or that relationship, this or that ways of rewarding behavior -- which could also be characterized as "phony", since it needed some props.
Think about it. That athlete runner is just using a trained skill, and a "mental athlete" would also use only a skill of outdoing those who passively wait for their emotions to well up spontaneously, naturally. And I am asserting here that either of those athletes is not doing anything "unnatural".
So, my question goes like this:
Why shy away from training our emotional capacity to produce happy feelings at will?
Oh, I know, we don't want to be black sheep, we feel so much better as regular sheep, not raising any brows, not being called names -- the sense of belonging means so much to us.
Communicating via our emotions is important to us. When someone in the elevator is commenting how the cost of living is going up way too much, and everyone around is nodding in agreement and with sour faces for a bigger effect -- how can we have a heart to display a content Mona Lisa smile?
Remember? -- misery needs company, and being a happy outcast is not a good recipe for a healthy interacting. So, even if some crazy dude like myself would suggest that we produce happiness -- simply because, damn it, it feels good -- no chance in this universe that we would be interested.
Well, okay, maybe not all of you, so if you are still reading, not making the rest of this text only my monolog, let's you and I get a little more disgusted with this spontaneous emoting.
Spontaneous means stemming out from our automatic pilot, so now be ready for one big surprise.
Namely, spontaneous folks are more phony than those who choose their emotions, simply because they are echoing all those who instilled into them those emotional automatisms. Which means it is not their authentic display of emotions, but a copycat's replay.
They are among those who, out of nowhere get an anxiety attack while standing in the store's lineup, because a person in front has a moustache exactly like their elementary school teacher had it -- the one who once made the whole class laugh at them.
So, their emoting is all unconsciously pre-cooked and pre-chewed for them, since anything in the present resembling something in their memory bank may trigger an emotional reaction.
What is the role of their conscious self? Just to be a pissed observer of their whimsical spontaneity.
We Can Choose Our Emotions
We all have something like an intuition -- that inner voice of a default feedback mechanism letting us know when we are off course from our best life's interests. It's our inner guide, beyond what beliefs we have acquired in life by imitating the crowd.
If we were in a habit of listening to that voice, instead of ignoring it, we might even get to this blessed truism that our emoting is our own business, our own freedom, and we don't answer to anybody about what we might choose to feel.
Back there I mentioned how all good feelings are constantly available in our emotional repertoire to be activated. How do I know it? You will know it too, if you imagine how little of a "mental effort" it would take on your part to instantly shift from a boredom to an ecstasy -- upon discovering that your lottery ticket is a jack pot winner.
You see what I mean? No "training" necessary to evoke that feeling. You see how we are lying to ourselves when we believe that it would take no one short of a good hypnotist to yank us out of our boring daily groove.
Those neuroscientists are telling us how our nightly dreams actually last much shorter than we experience them -- a kind of our brain being able to fast-forward that movie.
They also tell us about something like brain's neuroplasticity, meaning that our brain is much more flexible and ready to change than we are generally realizing it -- because of our stiff beliefs, routines, and other mental habits and addictions.
Shouldn't that make us delighted to know?! Hey, good bye boredom, here we come to play masters of our emotions!
At some other places I repeatedly said my favorite adage: "Mind is an obedient servant, but a cruel master". -- Mind meaning all our records of life experiencing downloaded together with their emotional charge.
No Need to Replay a Traumatic Past
Those smart asses of shrinkology are telling us how our basic emotional personality gets formed during our first seven years, and we take it into our adulthood by merely giving it an adult version.
So, some of you might have a childhood which didn't spare you of traumatic experiences, and now you think that your present emotional reality has something to do with it.
Sorry, I am familiar with the psychoanalyst's story, but to me it sounds like saying that pain of hitting our finger with a hammer has something to do with that pain of hitting our finger with a toy.
If it sounds ridiculous to you, it's because it is ridiculous. The qualitative pattern of suffering is there available to us whether we make it our experience in childhood or in adulthood. It's only that our automatic pilot is more bound to repeat emotions which have been more repeated in the past.
It doesn't discriminate over how much sense that repeating makes in the light of our best interests. It figures that such reactions must be important to our well being if they have been repeated so many times.
Thus, saying how we had an unhappy childhood and religiously replaying those patterns of experiencing -- whether it's loneliness, boredom, sadness, feeling unloved, taking a back seat in life for the scare of being ridiculed, criticized, or even punished if we fail -- it all means that we are surrendering our power to our automatic pilot to keep us in that emotional groove.
Now, contrary to the saying how we "cannot edit our past" -- I am telling you here and now that we can actually consciously decide to even turn all of it into something funny, dulling the edge of a painful past.
For it's not those past events per se, but how we emotionally processed them. If you watch those TV sitcoms, you must notice how they are converting some familiar dramatic scenarios of life into comical versions of them.
Indeed, anything from handicapped folks, to funerals, to divorces, to crazy spouses, "bad kids", losers, poverty...you name it -- can be seen in a funny, entertaining way, just if we would be willing to trade our precious childhood misery for one of those.
No matter how we want to philosophize about happy feelings, it all boils down to this willingness to mentally make that motion of igniting them -- or we prefer waiting for some more favorable circumstances to do that igniting for us.
Why wait? Really, do we have that much time left to gamble with it, folks? Why not just decide, this very moment? You know, sooner or later we must come to realization that all that scratching our forehead and our ass never produced enough good thinking -- so why not just do it.
© 2021 Val Karas
Val Karas (author) from Canada on April 16, 2021:
Treshty -- Numbers can really look intimidating when we talk about brain, How about that calculation which says that there are more possible connections between neurons in the brain than there are stars in the Milky Way?
And how about the one about 400 billion pieces of information that brain processes per second -- while we are aware of only 2000?
And we are using only 1.5% of our genes -- imagine our true potential that's dormant. Choosing our emotions is not an outlandish task, my dear Treshty., it is only not popular, judging by what's happening on our daily news. People are operating from their emotional automatisms, not living consciously. We could say that most are half asleep through all their life, living their nightmares, but scared to wake up, because then they would have to be responsible.
Thank you for your kind words, my friend. Enjoy your day.
Chrish Canosa from Manila Philippines on April 16, 2021:
Us people think 80,000 thoughts a day, that's an average of 2500 to 3,300 thoughts per hour, absolutely incredible! And in that 80,000 thoughts includes our choice of choosing what emotions to throw maybe we do the choosing emotional skill in 100 times it's so difficult to choose an emotion specially when your nerves are mad. Yet still, our emotional behavior is indeed our personal responsibility. You've put my brain into work Sir Val, wink wink... I thank you so much! Blessings....