The purpose of our emotions is for us to be able to have a rich, intimate relationship with God and each other. Our emotions help us to understand each other and to understand God in deeper and richer ways.
Take the time to slow down and observe what you are feeling. Allowing yourself the freedom to feel enriches the pleasure in your life. Observing what we are feeling, and how that is expressed physically and mentally, increases our awareness of who we are and how we interact in the world. Observing where in your body you feel joy, where you feel anxiety, and where you feel delighted can enrich your experience of life. Even if what you are observing is sadness or grief, our emotions enrich our living experience. We feel more fully alive when we take those moments to observe ourselves. We may feel pensive or depressed at times, but we also feel happiness, curiosity, anticipation, disappointment, and a sense of satisfaction for a job well done. When we shut off from the risk of pain, we are also shutting ourselves off from many feelings of pleasure.
We can find delight by looking for and embracing small pleasures each day. Seeking beauty encourages joy and happiness. We have five senses which provide five different ways to enjoy life. Taking time to enjoy the color, texture, sight, smell and taste of food enriches our experience with food. If we only ate one single bland food all the time, it would not be a very nice experience. The same is true with emotions.
Many times, we need to observe our own emotions and pay attention to what we are feeling. Our emotions are giving us information, but that information is filtered through our past experiences. The emotion may or may not be a true reflection of what is actually going on right now.
Our sense of smell, the sensations we get from odors, can trigger emotions and maybe one of our strongest memory triggers. The same smell can trigger different emotions for different people. The fresh odor of a crushed mint leaf can trigger the pleasant emotions of being out of doors in a beautiful herb and flower garden for one person. For another, that same mint smell can trigger the uncomfortable memory of medicine and being ill in a hospital. The odor is neutral; how it affects us depends on our individual experiences. Our feelings arising from these odors can cause us to feel joy or warn us of unpleasantness.
Feelings are also triggered by touch. Think about what you are touching right now. The slick feel of the screen of an electronic device, or the smoothness of paper. The sensation of the clothes you are wearing, the chair, or wall, or floor that you are touching. Be aware of all the different textures you are around right now. Some of them feel smooth and soft to the touch, others are coarse and heavy. What is your emotion when you touch these things? Is it pleasant? Is it uncomfortable? Is it neutral, just an observation?
What do you hear right now? Do you hear the birds or the wind rustling in the leaves? What about sounds of vehicles or people going by or children’s laughter? What sounds are pleasant to your ears? Which sounds are unpleasant? Which are neutral?
Look around you right now. There is color everywhere. Which colors please your eyes? Which colors are neutral, which are intense, which are soft? What emotions do you feel when you look at a blue sky? What do you feel about the colors of grass and trees? What colors trigger pleasant emotions in you and which ones trigger unpleasant?
Think about your last meal. What were the different tastes involved? What was sweet? What was salty? What was spicy? What was mild? Foods are designed to give us pleasant sensations. What emotions did you feel while you were eating?
God designed us to experience joy. He gave us emotions so that we could feel pleasure, happiness, also discomfort and more, and all of these things enrich our experiences as human beings. That is part of the original design. There is a rich emotional life available for you. It is how God created us. There is a lot of good in the world. There is a lot of beauty in the world even in the midst of struggle. When we look for the beauty in the world, we are moving toward happiness and pleasure, moving towards the restoration of the rich emotional life we were created to have.
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