What are emotions?

Emotions are an integral part of our daily life, their absence is hard to imagine. We would not be happy with birthday gifts, we would not be sad because of the loss of a loved one, we would not be disappointed if a long-awaited trip was canceled and we would not feel ashamed if we were caught doing something indecent, and there would be no pleasant surprise at the unexpected visit of a good friend. Therefore, you can understand that in many ways it is emotions that make every day unique and memorable.

Depending on the situation, emotions can change every minute and every day. All of the above situations can happen within a couple of days, and in accordance with them, we experience emotions. We can experience several emotions at the same time.


As a rule, emotion means, first of all, an emotional state of mind. If someone says “I’m sad” or “I’m offended” they are usually trying to describe what’s going on in their mind or what they’re feeling. Emotion arises when a person evaluates a situation as important to him. Emotions are multifaceted, body-wide processes. They are accompanied by changes in physiology, subjective experience and are expressed in human behavior.

Basic emotions are the emotions inherent in most people, regardless of cultural affiliation. It is believed that we have basic emotions from birth. At first they are not conscious, but all people feel and express them in the same way.

In most cases, emotions are divided into six main emotions:

    • Joy (feeling of happiness, fun, enjoyment, satisfaction, bliss, pride, excitement, fascination, pleasure, euphoria, recognition, friendliness, trust, kindness, sympathy, enthusiasm, admiration);
  • Astonishment (amazement, excitement, shock); 
  • Sadness (anxiety, joylessness, regret, guilt, shame, loneliness, sadness, despair);
  • Fear (anxiety, apprehension, nervousness, restlessness, fright, bad foreboding, alertness, doubt, tension, horror, panic)
  • Anger (anger, irritation, indignation, indignation, resentment, hostility, annoyance, nervousness, aggression);
  • Disgust (contempt, squeamishness, disdain, antipathy, hostility).

It is believed that some emotions are good, some are bad. Actually, this statement is wrong. Emotion is emotion; you can feel both joy, anger, and anxiety. It’s okay to talk to other people about your feelings. It is not normal to harm another person under the influence of your emotions.

Every emotion we express has an evolutionarily evolved cause and has benefited us. For example: it is unpleasant to experience fear, but if we did not feel fear, we would not be able to fear a bear or a careless walk on a cliff. Fear was important to the survival of our ancestors because only those who knew how to fear and avoid the right things survived. Today, of course, the sources of fear are different, but it is still not possible or useful to wish that the emotion of fear could be turned off somewhere, because insanity can lead to death in the extreme example. Thus, the optimal and appropriate feeling of fear is normal and necessary. The same goes for other “bad” and “good” emotions. Every emotion has its own time, place and purpose that helps us stay alive. However, when thinking about sustainability, it is important to experience different emotions in an equally balanced way, because exaggeration never brings good.

There are many different words to describe emotional states. The abundance of words describing emotions is divided into two large groups: positive and negative. However, unlike speech patterns, negative emotions themselves are not antipodes of positive emotions. If a person experiences great joy, then this does not say anything about how intensely he experiences sadness, disgust or disappointment. The same works in the opposite direction.

There are words describing emotions in all languages: the expression of emotions is a universal means of communication.  Although there are fewer words describing positive emotions than words describing negative emotions, positive words are used more often.

Social rules for expressing emotions dictate when it is appropriate to express an emotion. The social rules for expressing emotions are culturally specific.

Is the common statement true that if you give your face a joyful expression, then your mood will improve?

Research supports the hypothesis that our facial expressions influence our emotional experience, known as the facial feedback hypothesis .

To test the facial feedback hypothesis, volunteers were asked to imagine one of two states of muscle contraction while viewing slides. The tension of the muscles of the face corresponded to a joyful or angry expression, but the experimental volunteers did not know this. They claimed that slides with happy faces made them more joyful and less angry, and slides with angry faces made them more unhappy and angry.

Emotions are also expressed in our body, causing physiological sensations and reactions. In Finland, a study was conducted in order to determine which parts of the body we feel or experience emotions. For example, anxiety is mostly expressed by pain and tension in the chest area, falling in love creates a feeling of warmth and pleasure throughout the body.

Sources:
  • peaasi.ee

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