Monday, February 09, 2009

The dramas we go through can be one-act plays, not lifetime soap operas

(photocredit: Gabriel Pevide)
Taking the melodrama out of your life
and replacing it with honest, livable emotions.

Probably the biggest situation people can get into in their lives is to think that their emotions are beyond their control - or thinking that they have to control their emotions all the time (same presumption).

Wild swings in emotions, as well as chronic/fixed emotions are both signs that a person's emotions run their lives. Practically, one should be able to experience any emotion, both appropriate to the circumstance, or when someone else's story prompts them to surface.

Emotions are necessary to actually living. They are the spice of life, and what makes things worth living for. But emotions don't run a person's life - they shouldn't leave you feeling like a rag doll clenched and tossed in the jaws of of an excited, teething puppy. They are instead the high points, the full flavor of the right wine accompanying a truly gourmet dinner at a friend's house who also happens to be a consummate chef. (There is no pause or let down as their is no "check" to pay.)

Any emotion is able to be experienced as itself, and not something that has to be "triggered" or "caused". One can decide to experience an appropriate emotion - at any level or volume. Or pass the opportunity by.

It's said that liberals "think" with their emotions and conservatives "think" analytically. So there is supposedly the "feel good" motive to everything versus the "cold, calculated capitalist" approach.

Neither extreme is accurate. I've said before that people think with stories. But these stories have to have an emotional content. It's what makes a truly great movie - because people can "lose" themselves in the character and plot of a truly great film.

And is why box office records (or nowadays, downloads) are really the greatest indicator of quality - not any amount of prizes awarded by committees. In our long-tail world, this is how many of your like-minded friends view that movie and ask you to go see it.

To really evaluate your life, you have to appreciate the emotive content of it. There is no life or way of living which is more right than any other. None. Your own life is the most important one you will ever know. (Duh.) But you can experience others lives vicariously and so evaluate your own quality of living. That is why our modern movie industry continues to thrive - and does best in the worst times - because people are wanting to improve their own living by seeing through the eyes of another character, to see if they agree with the choice of actions that person makes.

And that explains why professional salesmen will listen and buy from anyone with a great sales pitch. Even if they don't need the product - because it helped them with their own life, just for that instant. They think their lives in terms of sales stories - because the time-honored best sales pitches have always been stories (see Robert Colliers' Letter Book for examples.)

These stories are good because they motivate by not "playing on" but instead inviting the emotions of the viewer.

One of the key points which came up in "Go Thunk Yourself!" research was that a person needed to take control over their emotional lives and learn that their attitudes were self-created. This doesn't mean one starts keeping them under rigid control - but instead means that any individual could and should learn to study one's own life's emotive content to experience all the richness that is possible.

A point in example is that captain of the "Miracle on the Hudson" flight. He had something like maybe half a minute to live out the drama from the point his windshield was covered with birds and both engines failed shortly after take off - to the point just seconds later where he was helping all his passengers get out of near-freezing water onto nearby ferries. When asked if he experienced any relief when the plane landed in the water, safely - he replied, no, that he knew another job waited - to get the passengers off that plane. And while the plane soon filled to chest deep water, he made two trips from one end to the other to make sure everyone was off.

But the tale of that flight has substantial emotive content. And of course the flight crew and passengers made trips to the various broadcast networks who played their story to riveted listeners. Because this is a story few of us will ever experience.

And we can all now, due to the wonders of our modern media, experience the wide range of emotions every person on that near-death flight experienced, as well as the practiced calm of those pilots and their cabin crew - all trained to keep their own emotions in check in order to deal with that exact type of situation. That training succeeded in all cases. As well, the passengers had to keep their own heads and take the right actions to ensure their own and their fellow passengers' safety. And only in telling these tales after do the other emotions come out - of appreciation, of joy, and so on.

It could be said that the truly insane among us are there by choice. They've decided to a greater or lesser degree to not control their emotions or to over-control them - both because of the computation that emotions are not controllable. But from William James back to ancient Greek philosophers, it's been noted (and verified by modern studies) that any attitude can be created or regulated at will.

And so this now frees us to live the life we've always wanted, to evolve and reach that higher state of personal beingness - to live any life at any volume we want. Because, as one modern philosopher pointed out: thoughts create actions, actions create habits, habits create character, character create your life. If you allow yourself to be too feeling or too analytical, your actions, habit, character, and life will be shifted to that degree away from the balanced, rich tapestry of life.

To that degree, you won't experience the fullness this world has to offer. Because your life will be either have too much or too little emotive content. And your senses will be dulled to that degree - overly "tight" in one extreme or the other. Having full control over your own life - in every aspect - means that you are causatively choosing the thoughts you want to think. All thoughts have emotive content, this is their power to manifest in the actual around us.

Your life, as it turns out, is completely designed from that chorus of thoughts. But you are the choir master and the conductor to the accompanying orchestra. And as well, you are the stage designer.

The self-chosen opera (not recorded melodrama) of your life is the one you've chosen and the one you live out by your decided thoughts and actions.

So - decide what you want to live, and then live it well, live it fully.