Monday, September 7, 2015

The emotional complexity of the mental world

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Negative emotions tend to have an insidious, long-term presence, adversely affecting health, relationships, and careers. Surprisingly, however, negative emotions can and often play a role in long-term success. Although positive feelings are the most important generators of personal and professional success, in some cases, luxury and comfort can lead to laziness and mediocrity. Promising, overconfident young talents can morph into disillusioned, bitter personalities with insignificant lives. What is the explanation for such variation in outcomes? The explanation can be found in emotional regulation.

Our inner thoughts stretch out into the past or the future, but we respond to a stimulus in a fraction of a second. This fast reaction rate does not leave time for careful analysis or analytic thinking; behavior is mostly directed by our momentary mental state. We know that positive emotions feel good, and they have powerful health benefits, yet we cannot help feeling blue, aggravated, or get teary-eyed when faced with tragedy. Feelings are not under conscious control and have unstoppable power in directing our lives. 

Although stress affects almost everybody from time to time, some people manage to maintain focus on positive attachments or goals (by positive attitude). How is this possible? Changing our attitude about a situation is like switching the car into reverse. Attitude can instantly overturn the emotional charge between positive and negative intention (for example, love can turn into hate or vice versa). Negative emotions can propel toward success by transforming unhappiness into motivation. Patience and determination make such transformation possible. If done consequently, it will lead to long-term success. Therefore, personal challenges, which can even take a physical handicap, can initiate exceptionally creative and professional success.

Emotions are energy states; therefore, they cannot be altered without interaction with the outside world! Both immediate satisfaction (short-term joy) and aggravation by unsatisfactory circumstances exhaust future opportunities by using up energies in the present. Mental calm, equanimity, on the other hand, conserve energy for progress, increasing future freedom. How to navigate life's emotional complexity? The situation can be visualized with a boat. As side-to-side movements slow a ship, emotional storms derail progress, but a fast-moving boat cannot rock side to side. Goals are potent motivators for success. Scientific studies for the above claim can be found in my book. Emotional stability is inner confidence, which is the engine of mental progress. What kind of boat do you represent? Do you allow negative emotions to sidetrack your ambitions? Can you maintain your inner calm when things are tough?

My straightforward handbook, The Power of Joy, gives you the tools and advice you need to liberate yourself from your negativity and become the best version of yourself.

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Picture credit: Gamma wave recording by Hugo Gambo

You can order the book on Amazon.

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