WHY THIS BOOK

Emotions are among the trickiest things to deal with.

We find ourselves unable to break their spell. Because they affect every aspect of our lives and determine the quality of it, our inability to understand how emotions work can prevent us from designing our ideal life and from fulfilling our potential.

INTRODUCTION

The mind in its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of Hell, a hell of Heaven.
— John Milton

How do you feel right now?
Knowing how you feel is the first step toward taking control of your emotions.

Why is it important to talk about emotions?

How you feel determines the quality of your life. Your emotions can make your life miserable or truly magical. That’s why they are among the most important things to focus on.
Your emotions color all your experiences. When you feel good, everything seems, feels, or tastes better. You also think better thoughts. Your energy levels are higher and possibilities seem limitless.
Conversely, when you feel depressed, everything seems dull. You have little energy and you become unmotivated. You feel stuck in a place (mentally and physically) you don’t want to be, and the future looks gloomy.

Your emotions can also act as a powerful guide. They can tell you something is wrong and allow you to make changes in your life. As such, they may be among the most powerful personal growth tools you have.

I find it ironic that just about anything comes with a how-to manual, while your mind doesn’t.

What you’ll learn in this book

In Part I , we’ll discuss what emotions are. You’ll learn why you are wired to focus on negativity and what you can do to counter this effect.

In Part II , we’ll go over the things that directly impact your emotions. You’ll understand the roles your body, your thoughts, your words, or your sleep, play in your life and how you can use them to change your emotions.

In Part III , you’ll learn how emotions are formed. You’ll also learn how to condition your mind to experience more positive emotions.

And finally, in Part IV , we’ll discuss how to use your emotions as a tool for personal growth.

PART I: WHAT EMOTIONS ARE

1/ HOW YOUR SURVIVAL MECHANISM AFFECTS YOUR EMOTIONS

Why people have a bias towards negativity

Your brain is designed for survival.
the probability of you being born was extremely low. For this miracle to happen, all the generations before you had to survive long enough to procreate. In their quest for survival and procreation, they must have faced death hundreds or perhaps thousands of times.

Your brain still scans your environment looking for potential threats.
In many ways, some parts of your brain have become obsolete. While you may not be seconds away from being eaten by a predator, your brain still gives significantly more weight to negative events than to positive ones.

Fear of rejection is one example of a bias toward negativity. In the past, being rejected from your tribe would reduce your chances of survival significantly. Therefore, you learned to look for any sign of rejection, and this became hardwired in your brain.
Nowadays, You could be hated by the entire world and still have a job, a roof and plenty of food on the table.

This is why rejection can be so painful. While you know most rejections are no big deal, you nevertheless feel the emotional pain. If you listen to your mind, you may even create a whole drama around it. You may believe you aren’t worthy of love and dwell on a rejection for days or weeks. Worse still, you may become depressed as a result of this rejection.

In fact, one single criticism can often outweigh hundreds of positive ones. That’s why, an author with fifty 5-star reviews, is likely to feel terrible when they receive a single 1-star review.

To overcome this bias towards negativity, you must reprogram your mind. One of a human being’s greatest powers is our ability to use our thoughts to shape our reality and interpret events in a more empowering way.

Why your brain’s job isn’t to make you happy

Your brain’s primary job is not to make you happy, but to ensure your survival. Thus, if you want to be happy, you must take control of your emotions rather than hoping you’ll be happy because it’s your natural state.

How dopamine can mess with your happiness

When dopamine is released into specific areas of your brain—the pleasure centers— you get a high. This is what happens during exercise, when you gamble, have sex, or eat great food.

One of the roles of dopamine is to ensure you look for food so you don't die of starvation, and you search for a mate so you can reproduce. Without dopamine, our species would likely be extinct by now.

In today’s world, this reward system is, in many cases, obsolete.
the release of dopamine can now be generated artificially: social media. Watching pornography or gambling also leads to a release of dopamine.

dopamine can create real addictions with severe consequences on our health.
In 2005, Mr Seop died after playing a video game for fifty-eight hours straight with very little food or water, and no sleep.

The ‘one day I will’ myth

Do you believe that one day you will achieve your dream and finally be happy?
the new car or house you want will only make you happy for a while. This phenomenon is known as ‘hedonic adaptation.’

How hedonic adaptation works

Conducted in 1978, the investigation evaluated how winning the lottery or becoming a paraplegic influence happiness:
The study found that one year after the event, both groups were just as happy as they were beforehand. Yes, just as happy (or unhappy). (Dan Gilbert’s Ted Talk: The Surprising Science of Happiness)

Perhaps you believe that you’ll be happy once you’ve ‘made it. This is simply not true.
No matter what happens to you, you’ll revert back to your predetermined level of happiness once you’ve adapted to the new event. This is how your mind works.
What it means is that, in the long run, external events have very little impact on your level of happiness.

According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness , fifty percent of our happiness is determined by genetics, forty percent by internal factors, and only ten percent by external factors. These external factors include such things as whether we’re single or married, rich or poor, and similar social influences.

The bottom line is this: Your attitude towards life influences your happiness, not what happens to you.

Action step

write down things that give you ‘shots of dopamine’.

2/ WHAT IS THE EGO

Your ego also plays a major role in shaping the way you feel.

You may show no pride and appear humble while still being controlled by your ego.

The ego refers to the self-identity you’ve constructed throughout your life. How was this identity created? Put simply, the ego was created through your thoughts and, as a mind-created identity, has no concrete reality.

You give events meaning only through your interpretation.
you identify with your name, your age, your religion, your political belief, or your occupation.

This attachment has consequences.
attachment creates beliefs, and these beliefs lead you to experience certain emotions. For instance, you may become offended when people criticize your religion.

we’ll refer to the ego as your ‘story’ or your ‘identity’.

Are you aware of your ego?

Your understanding of the way your ego works depends on your level of self-awareness.
People at the lowest level of consciousness are not even aware the ego exists and, as a result, are enslaved by it.

Note that the ego is neither good nor bad, it’s just a result of a lack of self-awareness. It fades away as you become aware of it, since ego and awareness cannot coexist.

Your ego’s need for an identity

Your ego is a selfish entity, only concerned about its own survival.
It has its own survival mechanism and will do whatever it can to persist.
As with your brain, its primary concern is neither your happiness nor your peace of mind. It wants you to do, have and achieve great things so you can become a ‘somebody.’

As we already mentioned, your ego needs an identity to exist. The way it does that is through identification with things, people, or beliefs and ideas.

Physical items

Marketers perfectly understand people’s need to identify with things.
They know people don’t just buy a product, they also buy the emotions or story attached to the product.
You may choose the products most closely associated with these ideals.

It doesn’t mean things are wrong per se. It’s a negative issue only when you become overly attached to things, believing they can fulfill you—which they can’t.

Your body

Most people derive their self-worth from their physical appearance. Your ego loves the way you look because it is the easiest thing to recognize and quantify.

When you strongly associate with your physical appearance, you tend to identify more easily with physical and emotional pain. Believe it or not, you can observe your body without ‘identifying with’ it.

Friends/acquaintances

The ego is only interested in what it can get from others. the ego thrives on the way it can use people to strengthen its identity.
most of the things you do are attempts to obtain the approval of others. You want your parents to be proud of you, your boss to respect you, and your wife to love you.

Parent/child relationships

a strong sense of attachment and identification with their children. This is based on the false belief their children are their ‘possessions.’
As a result, they try to control their childrens’ lives and ‘use’ them to live the life they wanted to live when they were younger. living vicariously through your children.
This may happen largely unconsciously.

Couples

The feeling of needing someone is very much a play of the ego as well.

Loneliness is not cured by human company. Loneliness is cured by contact with reality, by understanding that we don’t need people.
— Athony De Mello

Once you realize you don’t actually need anyone, you can start enjoying people’s company. You can see them as they really are rather than trying to get something from them.

Your beliefs

In extreme cases, people become so attached to their beliefs they are ready to die to protect them.
Worse still, they are willing to kill people who disagree with them.

Other objects of identification

The ego’s main characteristics

The ego’s need to feel superior

Here are some stratagems it employs:

Your ego’s impact on your emotion

your current story is the result of a strong identification with people, things or ideas.

most of your emotions are based on your personal story and the way you perceive the world.

You can replace your current story with a more empowering one.
you can change the way you interpret events.