Sunday, February 23, 2014

3 Ways to Use Emotions to Find Joy

"One is certain of nothing but the truth of one's own emotions." E.M. Forster

Emotions are an incredibly forceful part of our lives and for some the driving force of our actions. Psychologist have contrasting views about the purpose of emotions. However, the work of Robert Plutchik, the evolutionary psychologist, posited that there are eight basic or primary emotions. Plutchik's eight core emotions are: Joy, Trust, Fear, Surprise, Sadness, Anticipation, Anger, and Disgust. Each primary emotion has a polar opposite, for 

  • Joy is the opposite of Sadness
  • Fear is the opposite of Anger
  • Anticipation is the opposite of Surprise
  • Disgust is the opposite of Trust
1.  Understanding what our emotions are teaching us
If we find ourselves stuck in an emotion like anger, sadness, fear, envy, it may be an indication of a desired elevation of that emotion. Our sadness may be crying out for joy, our anger an expression of fear that yearns for trust, and our envy an expression of desire. 

2.  Examine our patterns belief
Why we get stuck in these basic emotions may be due to our patterns of belief. Our culture, religion, parental strictures, and other influences may have formed our current beliefs. If our religion tells us that desire is a sin, we stuff desire and remain in a state of anger or envy. If we were told that nothing ever works out in life, we stay stuck in sadness or disgust when all we want is to trust that we can experience joy.

3.  Joy is in the process not the outcome
Understanding our emotions can bring us to joy, which can only be experienced in the present moment. Eckhart Tolle, in his book The Power of Now writes, “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” This is contrary to the way most of us operate. We keep ourselves an arm's length away from joy by staying stuck in our primal emotions. We fool ourselves into thinking that joy is just around the corner when it is right in front of us. Keeping our gaze on our expectations (what's around the corner) will keep us in a state of suffering. We suffer through the job to get the money that is sure to bring us joy, right? Joy is in each step of the dance of life. When we can fully engage, releasing past belief patterns and future anticipation and elevate our emotional landscape, we can flow and dip in the moment, fully present, moving with joy and ease to the music of life.