What are Emotions and how are we affected by them?  

Posted by Plato Greybeard

     Emotions! Life is can be difficult with them or dull without them. They can be the bane of our existence or the spice of our lives. Emotions can get in our way or motivate us towards progress. They can be extremely scarce when we would like to experience them or maddeningly in our face when we would prefer that they be gone. They come unbidden and leave unexpectedly. They can hide or they can betray our innermost and secret feelings.
     Emotions are difficult to manage because they are not under conscious control.  They spring from the subconscious part of our mind, which is generally a mysterious place. Yet they have profound effects on our physical and mental health.
     For years, classifying emotions has been a major subject for research psychologists. Their objective has been to provide a tool for recognizing emotions so that they might be responded to appropriately. However, there is little agreement as to the form this classification should take. One researcher (Parrot, 2001) suggests that the primary emotions are love, joy, surprise, anger, sadness and fear. Parrot goes on to list 25 secondary emotions and over 100 tertiary emotions. Perhaps classifying emotions has only limited advantages because even when we identify an emotion, that does not help modify it.
     If there is one emotion that you would prefer to keep over all others, which would it be? If there is one that you would like to never experience again, which would it be?
     Emotions! Can't live with ‘em and can't live without ‘em, but they sure add spice to life!

What is the Meaning of Love?  

Posted by Plato Greybeard

     When we attempt to understand or define such a complex concept as "Love", we immediately run into the problem of individual interpretation. Based on previous experience, everyone is going to look at the matter somewhat differently. This can cause immense problems when a couple holds vastly different concepts of what each means when they say "I love you".

     What are the laws of attraction? Why are we attracted to one person but not another while someone else has exactly the opposite preferences? Is it their looks, brains, personality, sense of humor, a subconscious sense that they will be a good provider or that they will be likely to pass on strong and healthy genes?

     Is establishing a harmonious relationship the same thing as being in love? Is it possible to love someone and treat them badly, or be unfaithful, or even be self-centered? How is physical and emotional intimacy related? Does love require one or the other, or both…or neither?

     It may have been Frank Sinatra who sang a song whose lyrics included "I can't be right for somebody else until I right for myself". Would you agree with this statement? In other words, is it possible to love someone else if you don't love yourself? Having to have another person in your life to love in order to feel good about yourself defines a need-based relationship, not love. It is likely to fail if self-esteem is ever attained.

     One of the problems with loving someone else is that it makes you vulnerable. Many who have suffered the pangs of losing a loved one have vowed to never take such a risk again. Do the benefits of love justify the risks?

     A teacher once told me that humans could not love an inanimate object. What is the difference between loving another human, a pet or a stamp collection?

     Any consideration of this topic would be remiss without distinguishing between love and limerence. Limerence is the condition we find ourselves in when we first meet another person who rings our bell. We cannot stop thinking about them, wanting to be near them, feeling their presence even though they are away and fantasizing a lifetime of unimpeded pleasure in their presence. The words "I love you" fall easily and trippingly off the tongue. But this is not love, only limerence. The problem is that these feelings, as pleasurable and exciting as they are, are going to fade, sooner or later, 100% of the time. Certainly, true love may remain after the initial excitement has faded, but unless there is a substantial basis for the relationship, a new question might occur, "What did I EVER see in him/her?"

     All of which brings up the question, how do you know when you're in love?