Welcome (and Learn from) Negative Emotions

There are six core emotions that we all experience: sadness, disgust, anger, fear, surprise and happiness. Though all of these emotions are how we interpret, understand and connect with our world, four (sadness, disgust, anger and fear) are what most people identify as negative emotions. Though negative, most of us spend more time experiencing these than the positive emotions of surprise and happiness.

Take a moment and notice how much of your day you feel sadness, disgust, anger or fear. What choices are you making in work and life that inspire responding with these emotions?

Remember that the negative emotions aren’t “bad.” They can be productive to help you sort through challenges and successfully deal with your world. It becomes a challenge for you and those around you, however, when you stay in negative emotions. You are not learning the lessons they are teaching. When I work with my coaching clients about negative emotions, I suggest they visit but don’t move in. To do this, you have to develop an awareness of the emotions you experience, and understand why and how those emotions make you feel.

As these four emotions are available to you, remember that so are the two more positive ones. What would it take for you to learn to spend more time being surprised by and happy in work and life? As so many mindfulness teachers share, all of life is a choice. Though you can’t control what happens in life, you can choose how you respond to it. Noticing how you are feeling – which emotions are going on for you – is the start.

Life is meant to be a great adventure. If we learn to see it from the positive side, our experience will be remarkable. If we are experiencing it from the negative side, we will drag ourselves through life, taking others down with us. You know of those who can’t ever seem to be happy; they are always aware of what is lacking, missing or why they should be angry, disgusted or afraid. Are you one of them?

The world is the way the world is. You choose how to experience it. How you approach and experience your life will determine the quality of your life. Use your emotions wisely to have a really remarkable life experience, regardless of what life actually sends you.

Take Action
For the next 24 hours, tune in to the emotions you experience throughout the day. Each time you stop to notice, record the emotion you are feeling (sadness, disgust, anger, fear, surprise or happiness), then record the event that inspires it. At the end of the day, notice which emotions you spend most of your time with. If you find them to be on the negative side, what changes in your attitude and environment would help you shift to more positive emotions?

By Jay Forte

Consider reading The Value of Setbacks

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