Emotion is an important gift because it is the “gas” in our action “fuel tank.” It is our emotions which give us power, either for good or ill. Without emotion, human nature leaves us inert.
Remember the childhood emotion of boredom? Boredom is not apathy, but it is a relatively emotion-free state. And in that state, if you were like me, you were listless, inactive, unthinking, essentially inert. Children are quintessentially alive. Boredom is the opposite of living, being contrary to the child’s nature: wanting to express life. No wonder we all hated being bored.
What did your Mom tell you? Go out and play!
Well-meaning parenting and schooling practices, however, eventually dampened our sense of play and stepped on our tendency to display emotion. We tended to conclude, subconsciously, that if display of emotion is bad, then feeling it at all must be bad, too.
The problem for many of us is that prevailing patterns of Western thought culture include discounting, even devaluing, emotion. Men, who are biologically inferior at accessing their emotions anyway, are taught that displaying emotion is weak. Experiencing emotion is therefore fundamentally dangerous, as the jungle, modern or primitive, preys on weakness.
For over a century, American and English philosophers have been trying to bridge the gap between a truth they perceived, applied and proved, and the prevailing “logic” of the Western world. The truth is that nothing of any consequence happens without emotion.
Here are a few examples.
James Allen, English author and philosopher, wrote a large pamphlet entitled As a Man Thinketh, published 1903. He said:
Energetic thoughts crystallize into habits of cleanliness and industry, which solidify into circumstances of pleasantness. Gentle and forgiving thoughts crystallize into habits of gentleness, which solidify into protective and preservative circumstances. Loving and unselfish thoughts crystallize into habits of self-forgetfulness for others, which solidify into circumstances of sure and abiding prosperity and true riches. (Emphasis mine)
Note the prominence of emotions as the driving power behind a man’s habits, and that the emotions give energy to the related thoughts.
William Walker Atkinson, author of Thought Vibration, published 1906, said, “No man or woman ever amounted to anything unless he or she put life into the tasks of everyday life – the acts – the thoughts.” Atkinson makes clear in the remainder of that text that putting in “life” is the inclusion of positive emotion.
Wallace D. Wattles, who wrote the Science of Getting Rich, published 1910, said the following in his summary chapter:
Too much stress cannot be laid on the importance of frequent contemplation of the mental image, coupled with unwavering faith and devout gratitude. This is the process by which the impression is given to the Formless, and the creative forces set in motion. (Emphasis mine)
Napoleon Hill’s classic Think and Grow Rich, published 1938, places great emphasis on desire as the starting point of all achievement. Hill is a big fan of emotionalized vision, too. I love Hill’s recitation of the story of the sharecropper girl, who passionately asserts: ”My Mammy’s gotta have that fifty cents!” The girl’s conviction and emotion overcame the almost violent resistance of her would-be tormentor.
If you’re like me, one of the first things to which you want to attend in improving your life is improving your access to emotion. If emotion is your powerhouse, you’ll want full access to it. Here are some suggestions:
1. Be willing to be fully present when experiencing emotion. You’ll want to start doing this in private before taking that show “on the road.”
2. Every day, get out and play a little, whatever that means to you.
3. Listen with your heart to those closest to you, attuning your ear to their emotional state. This will help you demonstrate love and caring in ways that are ever better received.
4. Give a casual acquaintance a heart-felt compliment. Watch what happens.
5. Next time you receive a compliment, say “Thank you,” and mean it.
Give emotion a try, and tell me what you think. I look forward to your responses.