Every muscle contraction we have, every sound we produce is stimulated by what we feel. Consequently, to improve our actions and interactions we should not ignore our emotions ("No, no. I'm fine...") nor let them loose ("Aaargh! F***$#%!") but observe them, recognize them and express them with precision ("I'm scared"). The problem, however, is that we never learned how to do it and the current models designed to help us present a few flaws:
The Emotion FinderPublished on 06/23/2015 by Bruno Kahne
First, these models are overly complex. If you wish to put a word on what you feel you have to go through a list of up to 200 emotions. The time it takes to find the right word, your emotion has changed. With such models, I suggest you look directly for the word 'frustration.'
Second, most theorists promote the idea that people have more negative basic emotions than positive ones (Arnold 7/4, Ekman 4/2, Izard 7/3, Oatley 4/1, Tomkins 6/3, etc.). As positive emotions create positive actions and negative emotions create negative actions, this would mean that we are wired to suffer and hurt others. This pessimistic vision of the world is typically Western. The East would suggest an equal number of positive and negative emotions following the Taiji principle that every perception we have is a compound in one: we can understand happiness only when we have experienced sadness and health only when we have been sick.
The model I have designed does not attempt to differentiate feelings, emotions or moods, nor to make an exhaustive list of emotions. The aim is simply to help us put words on what we feel. “Misnaming things is to add to the misery of the world.” I would add to this beautiful quote of Camus that "expressing with precision what we feel leads to a more happy and productive life."
So, here is a model which respects Taiji principles (equal number of positive and negative emotions, each emotion defined by its opposite), is simple (using only words a child could understand) and precise (34 emotions covering the whole spectrum of human emotions).
How does it work? Easy. Print the Emotion Finder on a card in order to have it with you at all time. When you feel something and wish to express it or when you want to help someone do it, ask the following 3 questions:
- Is the emotion pleasant or painful?
- Is the emotion intrinsic (me with myself) or extrinsic (in relation with other(s) or with my environment)?
- Which of the 8 emotions in this category best describes what I feel?
Once done, if you wish, you can refine this emotion with a variation from the same lexical field (e.g. for fear: anxiety, apprehension, terror, panic, etc.) or fine-tune it by simply adding an adjective like slightly or strongly.
You are now ready to express your emotions out loud and with precision. So, how do you feel?
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