What are Emotions?

Emotions are a complex state of feeling that result in psychological and physical changes which influence both positive and negative behaviour.  Psychologist Paul Eckman has suggested that the basic emotions that are universal throughout human cultures are fear, disgust, anger, surprise, happiness, sadness, embarrassment, excitement, contempt, shame, pride, satisfaction, and amusement.

Emotions are associated with physiological aspects like hormones and neurotransmitters which can create positive or negative experiences.  How emotions relate to physiology is through how events are interpreted.  For example, if there is an awareness that there may be danger present then the nervous system will react and the emotions that are created will be either fight or flight from that situation.  Positive emotions sSpring beautiful nature backgrounduch
as happiness, contentment, love and acceptance will also cause different chemical reactions in your body to those that are released when there are negative or depressed feelings.

Emotions can also be expressed through body language.  Many emotions and expressions, such as a
smile, are universal amongst cultures and traditions.  Cultures can also influence whether emotions are displayed or not as a cultural norm.

In terms of the expression of emotions, extroverted people are more likely to be social and express their emotions, while introverted people are more likely to be more socially withdrawn and conceal their emotions.  Extremes forms of both these behaviours can be problematic.  Uncontrollable emotional behaviours or supressed emotions both create physical disease and difficult life circumstances.

The degree to which you understand your and other people’s emotions is called ‘emotional intelligence’.  The ability to label emotions and then use this understanding of them to guide behaviours and actions is a very valued skill.

It is very human to have good days and bad days.  On either of these types of days the emotions can be very strong and overwhelming.  It is important to balance out these emotions to maintain optimum health.