In psychology, Robert Plutchik (1980), in his “Wheel of Emotions” theory, generally identifies eight basic emotions: joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, anticipation, anger, and disgust. Plutchik further paired these emotions according to opposites: Anger is the opposite of Fear; Disgust, the opposite of Trust; Anticipation, opposite of Surprise; and Sadness, of Joy.
Examples of negative emotions are: Anger, Annoyance, Fear, Anxiety, Sadness, Guilt, Apathy, and Despair.
There’s no denying, negative emotions can verily cause an avalanche of hideous effects to our well-being, our relationships, and basically our health – high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, immune system deficiency, and cancer (some studies show the correlation of anger with breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men).
Plausibly, it seems preciously exigent for us to get rid of our negative emotions.
But, according to psychologists, getting rid of negative emotions does not necessarily mean that we have to kick or push them away. Psychologists generally agree that negative emotions are an incredibly normal, healthy and helpful part of life.
As humans, we will experience a full range of emotions throughout our lifetime in response to rapidly changing situations. No emotion is without a purpose. It’s when we begin to explore and understand the purpose behind each emotion that we learn new ways to respond and support our emotional growth and sense of well-being.
Elaine Mead, in her article in positivepsychology.com, enumerates five proven benefits of negative emotions, namely: 1) sadness can help you pay more attention to detail; 2) anger can be a strong motivator to seek mediation; 3) anxiety encourages new ways of approaching problems and challenges; 4) guilt helps you change negative behavior; 5) jealousy motivates you to work harder.
Similarly, Arthur C. Brooks, American social scientist and Harvard professor, in his biweekly column in The Atlantic titled “How to Build a Life,” aptly wrote:
“If we want a life full of deep meaning, true love, and emotional strength, it’s going to involve the risk of discomfort, conflict, and loss. This means there will be sadness, fear, anger, and disgust. If we eliminate negative emotions and experiences from our lives, we will be poorer and weaker for having done so.”
No doubt, negative emotions do cause stress. But again, solving the problem is not only removing the stress – it is only part of the solution.
More than just overcoming negative emotions or simply removing stress, it is wisely imperative to replace them, or re-fill our heart, with positive ones.
Thus, Bruce Lipton, American stem cell biologist and bestselling author of “The Biology of Belief,” rightly puts it:
“Stress hormones shut off the immune system. So, stress causes diseases in people. But the solution is not simply removing stress. If I just remove stress from my life, where am I on the scale? It’s zero. If you want wellness, it’s not just the absence of stress. More importantly, you need the joy and the love to go and to grow. So, stress alone is not the problem. What we need is more love, more life and happiness.”
So, that’s it. Less stress, more love, more compassion, more understanding or learning, and more happiness! Let’s choose to LIVE, LEARN, LOVE, and LAUGH!