How To Make Life Better By Feeling Emotions

Feeling emotions and understanding them helps with life.

Feelings are powerful mechanisms that can enhance experiences, personal growth, and bring success. However, being controlled by feelings can lead to ruin.

Feelings Can Both Guide And Mislead Us

Feelings and emotions color perception, guide our actions, and often define our interactions with the world around us. However, the very same emotions that bring us joy and fulfillment can also lead us astray.

Emotions Are Powerful

Emotions provide insight into our deepest desires, fears, and needs. When we listen to our emotions, they can steer us towards positive experiences and help us get through challenging situations.

Think for a moment about falling in love or the surge of motivation that accompanies a newfound passion. These feelings can propel us forward, driving us to greater accomplishment. It can also strengthen relationships and bonding.

Feelings React To Emotions

Often used interchangeably, feelings and emotions do have distinct differences. Emotions are reactive to situations, whereas feelings are personal, conscious interactions with emotions.

Emotions are generally considered to be brief, intense, and often instinctual responses to stimuli, either external (such as encountering a threat) or internal (such as recalling a memory). Emotions are also typically followed by physiological changes, such as increased heart rate or adrenaline release. 

Examples of emotions include happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust.

Feelings, on the other hand, are subjective experiences that arise as a result of our emotional responses, thoughts, beliefs, and interpretations of situations. They are more complex and longer-lasting than emotions. Feelings can be influenced by cultural, social, and personal factors. 

Examples of feelings include contentment, satisfaction, resentment, guilt, and pride.

You can read more about understanding feelings in this excellent article posted on Psychology Everywhere.

Chasing After Feelings And Emotions Can Be Destructive

Chasing after feelings and emotions can lead to ruin.

Despite their undeniable allure, feelings can also lead us down a treacherous path when we become fixated on chasing them. 

The relentless pursuit of certain emotions—whether it be the fleeting high of excitement or the temporary solace of validation—can be profoundly destructive.

When we chase a feeling, we give up control over our lives, allowing our emotions to dictate our every move. 

This often leads to impulsive decision-making and a perpetual cycle of seeking external validation to satisfy an overwhelming desire for emotional fulfillment. Ultimately, this leads to emptiness and feeling worse than before.

This article about what happens if you chase happiness, published in Psychology Today, does a great job explaining why it’s so destructive.

Feelings Are Different After 40 

For both men and women over 40, there’s often a heightened sense of emotional maturity and self-awareness that comes with age. 

Many have typically encountered a wider range of challenges, triumphs, losses, and achievements than those in their mid-20s. These experiences add to a more developed understanding of emotions, including a greater capacity for empathy. As a result, emotional reactions are often tempered by wisdom, calmness, and a long-term perspective. 

There is also a culmination of societal expectations over the years that influence the expression and perception of emotions. 

Men, for instance, may have been socialized to suppress emotions such as vulnerability and sadness, leading to a tendency to downplay or mask their feelings. This suppression can sometimes manifest as stoicism or reluctance to seek emotional support, which may impact mental health and relationships.

On the other hand, women over 40 may experience an emotional shift due to hormonal changes associated with menopause. Additionally, women may face societal pressures related to aging, specifically around physical appearance, which can contribute to feelings of insecurity or self-doubt. 

You can read more about turning 40 in an article I wrote here.

Feelings And Emotions Can Be Valuable Confirmations

Feelings are often portrayed as elusive, mysterious entities that we must relentlessly chase after as if they hold the key to our happiness or success.

However, viewing feelings solely this way can lead to a perpetual cycle of dissatisfaction. Instead, it’s worth considering the perspective that feelings are more akin to compliments or confirmations—acknowledgments of our experiences and perceptions—rather than prizes to be pursued at all costs.

Think about the feeling that comes from a conversation with a friend or loved one that you’re enjoying and engrossed in. Now imagine those moments when you witness a kind act that warms your heart. 

These emotions aren’t necessarily something we actively seek out, but rather they emerge naturally as a response to our surroundings and interactions. In this sense, feelings serve as gentle affirmations that we are in the present moment, appreciating the beauty and complexity of life as it unfolds.

Conversely, feelings of discomfort or unease may indicate when we’ve strayed from our core values or when a situation no longer serves our well-being. 

By reframing feelings as compliments or confirmations, we shift away from the notion that they are something to be relentlessly pursued or controlled. 

It’s Really About Letting Go

Let go of all emotions and experience.

The problem with chasing feelings and emotions is that they always fade. Worse yet, if until the feelings and emotions are realized one isn’t happy, life can become difficult.

The truth is, in pursuing something that provides the emotional experience, it’s the lack of being able to control the outcome that causes suffering. Unhappiness and dissatisfaction are the result of being in a constant state of wanting, made worse through trying to make the outcome happen.

Instead, by releasing our attachment to specific outcomes and learning to let go of the incessant need for control, we open ourselves up to the infinite possibilities that life has to offer. 

In no way am I suggesting to not pursue something that you believe can add to your enjoyment. However, I am suggesting that first, don’t be concerned about how you get there, and second, don’t delay the beauty of what is here now.

More often than not, if you pursue something for long enough, you’ll almost always get it. This could happen in a day, a month, a year, or longer. Regardless, if you’re consistent, it will most likely happen.

The question then is, if what you desire will most likely happen, would you rather enjoy the journey, or suffer until you get what you want? 

Most Everything Is A Conscious Choice In The Moment

Feelings and emotions are the vibrant colors that paint the canvas of our existence.

Let’s face it. They’re awesome.

However, as described above, when pursued as the source of satisfaction and happiness in life, feelings and emotions can lead to many problems.  Used as a confirmation tool, it can produce amazing results.

It’s easy to get caught up in feelings and emotions, forgetting that they do come and go. However, what always remains is you, the one experiencing it all. 

Each of us is constantly choosing what to feel in the moment.

Many (myself included) at times select decisions that are more instinctive or reactionary, rather than consciously aware. It’s similar to dust subject to the direction of the emotional wind.

In truth, the more aware you can become, the greater you are in choosing how you enjoy each passing event. 

I’ve chosen to let go of any emotion or feeling where I realize I’m suffering. I do this as best I can. Should I be looking to finish this or accomplish that with the promise of an emotional high upon completion, I consciously let go of how I get there more often than not.

The result is a much more enjoyable journey through this life, while also feeling those emotions when they arrive, and they always do.

Give it a try and see what happens.

Until the next time, cheers.

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