Have you ever experienced the feeling “gezellig”? Unless you live in a Dutch speaking country, you likely answered no.
Gezellig definition: “A Dutch emotion concept representing a kind of comfort with friends, which has no exact English translation. It is not an internal feeling that one person has for another, but a way of experiencing oneself in the world. “https://how-emotions-are-made.com/notes/Glossary
The reason for this is you can’t experience an emotion unless you have the concept for that specific emotion. This is a novel concept, presented by this book “How Emotions Are Made”.
Far reaching consequences and innovations can be built out of this idea but I’ll save that for another article.
The emotional system of our bodies evolved over millions of years whereas in the past 12,000 years, the complexity of human society has risen substantially. Our brains have to deal with far more situations and scenarios than earlier humans.
This can cause a disconnect between us and the modern world. Our emotional decisions may often seem irrational in the modern day.
That’s because the modern day has been built from rules and logic outside the laws of nature.
By attaching words to your feelings and emotions, you can observe their validity in your own life and the modern world. Some emotions do hold us back and go against our over goals.
By layering logic on top of emotional hardware, we can update our minds to a more rational decision maker that is cohesive with the modern day.
You shouldn’t feel bad for the emotions you have nor suppress them completely.
I am not suggesting elimination of emotions by any means. Emotions are what make life worth living.
But you can control your emotions, build better models and logic streams that map onto the requirements of the modern day. And that is the point of these writings. An attempt to go down that path, share it, and help us all enjoy life more.
The interesting thing about emotions is that based off sensory input and what you imagine the social context to be, an emotion is experienced.
As individuals, (for western society. It may be different in more “collective” societies) we are the main character of our daily experience in the world.
Everything can be understood or crafted for its relevance or irrelevance to us.
Emotion 1 – Anger/Frustration
Anger is the first emotion I want to analyze, because I think it is one of the easier emotions to tame through logic. The logic behind Anger – AKA why you get mad: You expect reality to be different than it is.
I’d argue that “Only you can make yourself mad.”
Most people are disgusted by that statement. Hate it. Feel it can’t be true.
But it is true. Expectations play a major role in how emotions are experienced, especially with anger or frustration.
You are responsible for the mental & emotional landscape of your mind.
Have some people had more luck in their landscapes? Absolutely.
Have some people had worse upbringings than you? Sure.
But at the end of the day, you experience your mental landscape everyday. Is it harder to change if you got dealt some bad shit, yes, but you can change & it’s your responsibility to own it.
A great concept is Hanlon’s razor “Don’t attribute malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
When someone cuts you off in traffic:
1) They may not have seen you
2) Have you cut people off before without meaning too?
3) Most of the time, it was likely just stupidity. Not malice.
What to understand: If you’re angry, you are wrong. You’ve made the wrong predictions about the world. It’s YOUR fault.
How to wash away anger when it arises: Analyze yourself and the situation.
- Ask why you expected reality to be different? Is it reasonable? Yes? No?
- Why are you wrong?
- How do you alter your expectations for better future predictions?
- What was the main driver of your mistaken prediction about reality?
You may not always have to go through every question above to wash away your anger, but once you accept that anger arises out of your own miscalculations about reality it becomes far easier to extinguish.
Common ways people are “Everyday-Angry” & a new way to see the situation.
Traffic or Delays in Transportation
Situation: People drive or take the same daily commute. They are angry daily.
Initial Expectation: They expect people to go fast and make smart decisions. They expect to get where they want between the tight window of time they set for themselves.
New Expectation: (also known as stress free driving):
1) In general, if someone is doing something dumb on the road, they will likely continue along that trend.
Stop expecting pro-expert drivers on the road. Dumb drivers are going to exist as the majority of drivers and you should be cautious of that.
2) It takes how long it takes to get places. You can’t make people go faster or fix traffic. If you’re late, it’s your fault.
You know traffic is a thing. Stop pretending it’s a new phenomenon each day. Traffic, accidents, road construction might slow you down so account for the possible slow down.
Demon Souls, Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro may be the most frustrating group of titles from a video game developer. The first playthrough of each game is a frustrating experience.
If you completed Dark Souls 1-3 and Bloodborne, you likely felt you were good at FROMSOFT games going into the recently released Sekiro.
Sekiro is grueling if you play it like the other Soulsborne games. The learning curve is high and takes a lot of determination to just keep trying.
You slowly get better, but each boss is a new struggle as you have to reevaluate if you actually understand how the combat system works.
Situation: I recently experienced some frustration with the release of Sekiro. Load up Sekiro. I wasn’t good. I keeping dying. Barely making progress over multiple hours of gameplay.
Initial Expectation: You’re good at video games. You get to the tutorial boss of Sekiro and get stomped. Not only do you lose, but you keep losing. You expect to win and it’s frustrating because reality is different than what you imagine it to be.
New Expectation: This is a new game. The combat system is completely different. You don’t have the muscle memory or experience to be great at it. It makes sense you suck at it initially. It’s going to take time and effort to get better.
Weather is different than Forecast
Weather is difficult to predict.
Situation: Weather app says tomorrow is partly cloudy with a 20% chance of precipitation. Tomorrow comes, and it rains.
Initial Expectation: Tomorrow will be a sunny day. It rains. I’m pissed. WTF. I’m canceling my plans and doing nothing today because it rained.
New Expectation: Weather is hard to predict. It will likely be a nice day tomorrow. I can still do my plans if it rains. It sucks it’s raining, but it’s still warm out. I don’t control the weather. My day is not ruined.
Advanced Awareness: A good realization is that when you have a stressful, busy, exhausting day – you may be much quicker to jump to an upsetting emotion like anger.
For example, you may typically be a very calm driver but once in awhile, when you have a stressful/busy day, you’re suddenly quick to anger on the road.
Simply realizing that this is abnormal behavior for yourself can be helpful.
You are likely just overreacting because of being tired and drained.
Recognizing this can help mitigate your reaction, bringing you a bit closer to your usual baseline. It might not wipe it away completely, but it can help you gain control of yourself and the situation.
In future articles, I will deconstruct other emotions and useful ways of understanding them for a more controlled emotional landscape.
The biggest takeaway of this article is: Who’s fault is it that YOU are angry? It’s YOUR fault.
Figure out why you are wrong and anger can be quickly stifled. If you’re new to this practice, it may take awhile to reflect in the moment about why you are wrong.
Eventually, with continued practice, whenever you are angry or frustrated your mind will automatically assess the situation, ask why/where you are making wrong predictions, and you’ll be able to quickly move from an instance of anger back to you normal baseline.