Emotion Is Just Information
I am taking a class, The Science of Happiness and the professor, Dr. Robert Biswas-Diener said, “Emotion is just information. It’s not good or bad. Just information.” I could not believe this statement when he said it and almost marked this class down as crazy. But his credibility of studying happiness scientifically for over 30 years gave me pause. Maybe he really does know something about this…
So, I walked the dog and chewed on this challenging topic this morning. Emotions are so strong and leading. They do not feel predictable or manageable. “Just information” does not seem like an accurate way of viewing emotion. Or is it?
I rounded the bend and saw the sky filled with clouds and sunrise.
Negative emotions feel like a blanket of clouds overhead. In life, there is frustration, feeling lost, worry, anxiety, tightness and more…
These are moments of information?! What is the information?
Playing around with this, I wondered about a major life change. The example in class was moving to New York City for a job change. It is normal to have some apprehension in this new step. “I don’t know how to get around in a big city. I don’t even know if I will like it!” That is great information! It is true. You do not know the city or how it is going to go in the first 2-6 weeks. Imagine what you will feel like in six months.
Do you think you will have the navigation figured out by then? Is there someone you can ask for connections to make the transition easier?
Using the emotion to respond rather than fritter or fret is a different approach. Emotions can be used to figure out what you need in the moment.
Do I need more support? Is there something I can learn to make this easier? Is there a gap between my ability now and what this requires of me?
That is great information to use to decide how you want to move forward.
Around another bend, the clouds broke up.
It was open and expansive. I felt relief flood into my body. It was so wide and bright. The horizon was lit up and vast. This is how happiness feels. Smooth sailing. Clear. Fresh. The information given is that all is well. No changes are needed. Needs are met and one is safe. I laughed at myself playing with this new information. Maybe emotions can lead us to new information. I do know I prefer positive and neutral feelings. But this new idea will make me curious about what new information will be available to me listening to what my emotions tell me.
Humans have certain criteria for happiness. We feel fulfilled when we find a balance between short- and long-term goals, positive and negative experiences, growing times and familiar times, and finally self-time/time with others. Thank you, Robert Biswas-Diener for introducing me to the idea of emotions being information that can inform us on our lives.
Fall is a time of change, drawing inward. Book a session if you would like to sort out the information your emotions are telling you. Listening to your needs and expressing a plan of fulfillment is a great supportive plan for fall.
It is all about the discovery and recognition of what works for you. Honor your own recipe and lean into what you find.