As we go about this business of living we will encounter countless things every day which will trigger various responses. Some of these will be thoughts, some actions, some emotions. What we are examining at this point are our emotional responses.
Our emotions may not always be rational, logical or beneficial. If we are to improve our lives it is in our best interest if we take note of our various emotional responses, which situations trigger a response that hinders us, which trigger a response that is helpful to us.
Everything in our environment holds the potential to be an emotional trigger. The scent in a movie theater, the sun highlighting barren tree limbs in winter, the sound of a plane flying overhead, the texture of a doorknob.
“Nothing awakens a reminiscence like an odour.” -Victor Hugo
By becoming aware of our emotional responses we can determine which emotions within us are well-developed, which are stunted, which are finely tuned, and if any are lacking altogether. Our spiritual backgrounds will have guided us in determining which emotions are labelled “bad” and “good”, “desirable” and “detrimental”.
Once we have become aware of our emotions, and understand the circumstances in which they are evoked, we can takes further steps towards harnessing them, sublimating them, overcoming them, accepting and using them, in an appropriate and beneficial manner.
We will not reach a day wherein we no longer have a need to be mindful of our emotional responses to the world around us. We are continually evolving creatures, encountering new experiences as we move through life. A situation which once evoked a feeling of fear may when encountered anew evoke a sense of calm. A heart closed to the emotion of love, may find that love has found a way within. A person at the mercy of their anger and rage, may come to terms with their past experiences and find a personally positive outlet for those intense feelings.
“Would that life were like the shadow cast by a wall or a tree, but it is like the shadow of a bird in flight.” -Haggadah, Palestinian Talmud (4th c.)
A tool to help us in this process is to jot in one’s journal the varied emotions that are felt throughout the day. What the emotion is, the circumstances, the thoughts that accompanied the emotion. On occasion peruse these entries and see if there are patterns, if perhaps a certain situation always triggers the same response, or if there are certain emotions which dominate your thought processes. From there you can determine if there are emotions you would like to modify, increase or decrease.
It is a personal journey, where there are no Absolute Rights or Wrongs, but for our own Inner Conscience.
“Our system of morality is a body of imperfect social generalizations expressed in terms of emotion.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1915)
“Where the heart lies, let the brain lie also.” -Robert Browning (1855)