Of Emotions and Spirals

Back in my early grad-school days, I was doing research into Plato’s view about the mind/soul and its relationship to contemporary psychology.

You see, I wanted to find what wisdom is shared between ancient philosophy and modern science…

And I came across a really interesting and powerful finding that both Plato and modern psychology highlight.

It’s about how the way we feel shapes the way we think.

Or in modern speak, about the cognitive modulations of emotions.

You see, Plato suggests and modern psychology confirms that negative emotions like fear, anger, and anxiety tend to foster focus narrow attentional focus and rumination…

By contrast, positive feelings like joy, excitement, and gratitude tend to foster creative and open-minded thinking.

When I discovered this psychological tendency, I realized just how INCREDIBLY important it is to take care of one’s emotions as part of taking care of oneself and living a happy life.

To make sure to cultivate positive ones with the right mindsets and practices

And to make sure to take care of yourself when negative ones take over.

Because I realized that when negative emotions take over and foster rumination on problems, they can lead us to only focus on how bad the problems are. This can impede action and make us feel even worse. Which in turn makes us focus on just how bad things get.

By contrast, I realized that when we take action with positive emotions that foster creativity and open-mindedness, we can unlock new awesome possibilities that make us feel even better. This, in turn, unlocking more awesome possibilities

In short, I had the twin insights that:

Negative emotions can often set off Vicious Cycles and Negative Spirals that make your life (and you feel) worse and worse.


Positive emotions can unlock Virtuous Cycles or Positive Spirals that make your life (and you feel) better and better.

Given this, you should be conscious and take care not to let your negative emotions such as fear and anger lead you down such spirals.

Don’t repress your feelings. Feel what you gotta feel.

But take care not to be led down paralyzing/debilitating vicious spirals.

Similarly, you should take care to cultivate a positive attitude, the kind of attitude that leads to feeling positive emotions like joy and excitement at the things around you.

By doing so, you will be more likely to enter virtuous spirals that can take you ever higher!

Hope this helps you lead a happier, more meaningful life!

Source by Santi Sanchez

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