Are You A Slave To Your Emotions?
Before I started reading The Subtle Art To Not Giving A F*CK, a book written by Mark Manson, I had this idea that you could smile and turn a bad day into a good one. Unfortunately, it doesn't work. It may help in the short term, but it won't fix the underlying problem. You can't run away from the pain and cover it with a smile. You can't mask suffering with positivity. Nowadays, everyone tells you to be more positive, but that is bullshit and doesn't get you anywhere in life. All it does is take the pile of shit and throw it under the carpet. A better example would be taking dirty clothes and throwing them in the closet. They may have disappeared, but we both know they are still there. The same can be said for the emotional state.
Let's face it, life is going to suck at times. You are going to suffer. It is inevitable. But you don't have to let the suffering determine the choices you make. There can be beauty in pain, it can bring attention to an underlying problem. For example, if you are working out and your shoulder is numb, there is a good chance that you fucked up your shoulder. Should you keep going and ignore the pain? No! You should stop and figure out what is wrong. The same can be said for our emotional state. Usually you feel a certain way because something happened, be it good or bad, there was something that influenced the mood. So you should ask yourself, "What is causing my current mood? And how can I fix it?" Thus, it is a great idea to figure out what makes you happy. Whenever you feel happy, you do the same thing. You ask yourself a simple question: "What stopped my suffering and why am I so happy?" By asking yourself these simple questions, you get a better idea of what you love and what you truly want in life.
But why do our emotions change so quickly? One day you are the king or queen and the next day you are the jester in the courtroom. So what gives? I believe our feelings are just symbols, ideas our mind generates to bring attention to. Remember, the emotion itself doesn't cause any harm. It may change how we feel and think, but it doesn't take hold of our body and force us to do anything. But for the majority of us, it seems that way. We blame our emotions for our poor behaviors. For example, how many times have you heard, "It wasn't my fault, I just haven't had my coffee yet" or "I am so sorry, I will be much better after I eat this." Now here's a question, do those statements above sound like an adult or a child?
The ability to control and react to one's emotions is the main difference between being an adult and a child. When we are in a terrible mood, we tend to think the world is ending. We let these feelings determine the rest of our decisions for the day. For example, if people have a bad day, they tend to reward themselves with pizza, processed snacks, alcohol, and drugs. Over time, the behavior pattern takes its toll. Anxiety increases and so does the risk of disease and weight gain. Living based on your emotions is a prison. You are the slave, and the feelings are the master. They are in complete control, and you are not. You are no longer the master of your domain. To be free, you must have the disciple to control your reactions. You must focus on what you can control and forget about the rest.
Throughout my life I have been held captive by my emotions. But over the last two years, I have learned how to take control of my domain and become my own master. And guess what, it was all due to suffering. Granted, I still have plenty of work to do and at times I fall prey to the emotional beast inside of me. But by asking the simple questions, "Why am I suffering?" or "How do I fix this?" I have found my way out of the darkness. For me, my happiness lies in problem-solving and learning. In essence, I love escaping the current world and dedicating all my attention to a problem at hand. Viktor Frankl, the author of Man's Search For Meaning, sums it up eloquently:
“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”