Monday, September 7, 2015

The emotional complexity of the mental world

File:Eeg gamma.svg

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 contrasting outcomes? The solution can be found in the complexity of emotional regulation.

Our inner thoughts stretch out into the past or the future, but we respond to a stimulus (by actions and behavior) in a fraction of a second. This fast reaction rate does not leave time for careful analysis or analytic thinking; we tend to respond in a completely automatic fashion, 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.

Emotions are energy states; therefore, they cannot be altered without interaction with the outside world! However, changing our attitude about a situation is like switching the car into reverse. Attitude can overturn the emotional charge between the positive and negative intention instantly (for example, love can turn into hate or vice versa). For example, stress affects almost everybody from time to time, but only some people manage to maintain focus on positive attachments or goals (by positive attitude). Even negative emotions can propel some people toward success because they transform unhappiness into motivation. Such transformation requires patience and determination, but if done consequently, it will lead to long-term success. Therefore, it is often found that personal challenges, which can even take a physical handicap, can initiate exceptionally creative and professional success.

Goals are potent motivators for success. Even in robotic simulations, a characteristic future control grabbing is found by Wissner-Gross and Freer. 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 well visualized as a moving boat. As side-to-side movements slow a ship, emotional storms derail progress, but a fast-moving boat cannot rock side to side. Recent scientific studies support the above claim and 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 Manuscript, "ThermodynamicImplications of the Fermionic Mind Hypothesis," appeared in Activitas Nervosa Superior.

Picture credit: Gamma wave recording by Hugo Gambo

You can order the book on Amazon.

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Copyright © 2015 by Eva Deli

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