Human emotions are a wonderful thing. To a large extent Hollywood and the publishing industry have staked their claim on their ability to appeal to or manipulate the emotions of their viewers and readers. Who didn’t cry at the end of Old Yeller? The book is infused with powerful feels, as is the movie.
The reactions we have to such blatantly tear-jerking stories have a place in our hearts. We love to be entertained, to be soothed by stories that take us out of our own lives for a moment. Ah, entertainment.
Our reactions to specific stimuli create the basis for much of what’s good in life. Humor, romance, pathos, and fear all ball up inside us to create a cornucopia of reactionary options. At the very core of us is our ability to feel, to emote, and to empathize.
That is not to say emotions are all good all the time. While a given reaction to a situation may be understandable, that does suggest the reaction is desirable or productive.
There is perhaps no more valuable lesson to be learned in life than to realize that we have control over our own emotions and reactions to stimuli, at least to some extent.
Fear is a good example of this. Fear is not all bad. It’s a great motivator. It serves its purpose when preventing us from sticking our hand into a running fan or making us walk more briskly to the car when we find ourselves in a sketchy neighborhood after dark. Conversely it does not serve us well when it prevents us from taking positive action to improve our lives when there is no serious physical threat implicit in the action we’re contemplating.
At the core of fear is often a lack of understanding. Its debilitating power is what kept us from talking to that special someone way back when, because we feared rejection. It’s what kept us from tossing a few dollars into the stock market when we were younger, because we believed we might lose it
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