Thinking About Fuel Gauges

This is a response that I made to a friend’s introspective mass mail. Her email is immediately below, and my original response follows. I’ve not edited either message before posting them here.

She wrote:

Have you ever thought about what the perfect emotion is?
Is it love, happiness, joy or pain and grief?
Why is it that in some ways we value some emotions over others… we tend to seek out love yet we avoid being hurt?
Why is it that when someone is going through really intense pain it evokes a sense of pity or sympathy in us? Why do we not celebrate the fact that we have different possibilities and intensities of emotion to experience

(although I do think it would sound cold if we said something like I’m truly happy that you are experiencing pain 😉
How conditioned are we?
I believe that what makes us human and truly alive is the ability to experience all of these emotions perfectly….

Anyway that’s what my grey matter was busy with while driving to work this morning.

Enjoy life’s cadence this looong weekend.

From Jai:
For some reason, this email was tagged as “Performance Work” in my inbox. Evidently it has nothing to do with work nor performance but did warrant a retort (although why I didn’t when it was originally sent is, well, probably ‘cos I was too lazy to).

Perhaps, there isn’t a perfect emotion in much the same way as the isn’t a perfect line on your fuel gauge. Still, you would prefer the little pointer on the fuel gauge to be at the top (or far right, depending on your car model). It shows that your tank is well fed. Likewise, when we are well “fed” we feel happy. Sometimes we feel love. We may feel joyful. Or appreciative. And that’s certainly what we strive to be, a combination of all those good feelings.

When you ask why we seek love yet shy from pain (being hurt), well, it is obviously because love feels good while pain feels bad. We want the good things. Where your questioning can be extended is why do we reject the possibility of love because we fear associated pain? There is no guarantee of pain in the seeking of love, just as, I suppose, there may not be a guarantee of love. But in the seeking we surely will find something. And if it turns out to be in line with what we want, great. If not, try another path.

What makes us human is more than likely the bipedal form and minimal fur.
What makes us truly alive is not only the ability to experience these emotions but to notice them and use them to direct our lives.

What makes life worth living are those events, people and situations that bring us love, joy, happiness and a sense of gratitude. Emotions indicate where we are in ourselves and have little bearing on our environment per se. For example, one person may find sadness in having to spend a night in a rainforest while another is exhilarated. The former, in ever seeking the better life (for her, of course), will do what it takes to remove herself from the rainforest into a more pleasant setting. The latter, of course, need only enjoy himself further by immersing himself in his current environment.

We follow the path of joy. Well, we want to anyway.
What we forget is that the emotion is merely an indicator. When the needle is on joy it means we’re are doing what is right for us. When the needle is on grief or anger or depression, it obviously means we are not doing what is right for us. We can either continue doing what is not right until the needle dips far enough for us to whither away or kill ourselves in depression. Or we can seek out actions, thoughts, words that do feel right, ie. bring us closer to love, joy, and all that is good.

Here endeth the lesson. May you always follow your bliss.