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The Positive Effects of Negative Emotions

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If there is a problem with the quest for happiness and positivity it’s that our more negative emotions are dismissed as having no positive value. Not so, says Dr.Tim Lomas. His new book on the Positive Power of Negative Emotions aims to put a few things straight.

Feeling & Being Angry

A lot of anger stems from frustration but these frustrations can also become a force for life changing events. Sitting for hours in traffic or being compressed in a crowded, stuffy and smelly train is enough to make us question whether it’s really worth it. Anger can be a moral force for good, as seen in the history of the civil rights movement. Feeling anger and being angry are different. Tim Lomas says, when we feel anger it’s time to stand back and examine why. Being angry is unhelpful and almost always destructive. The two need to be distinguished.

Boredom

Boredom may make time drag, but it also means we’re not preoccupied with other things, the result being we look at ourselves. This is a time for reflection and, says Lomas, a period for creativity. Did you know that Einstein’s theory of relativity came to him while he was daydreaming about riding a sunbeam!

Guilt

Without a sense of guilt we would have no real sense of right or wrong. Guilt can help us reflect on our own behaviour and in that way can guide us to becoming more self-aware and compassionate people. When we reflect on our errors we grow as people but we also have to regard this as the learning experience it is and not be unkind to ourselves in the process.

Envy

When we look up to someone it’s a form of inspirational envy. When we want what someone else has got in that greedy corrosive fashion, then it’s anything but. Envy can be a force for good if we apply it to 'social capital' Click To Tweet such as the acquisition of more friends, social networks and a sense of community.

Loneliness

There’s a difference between loneliness and solitude. In someways they are two sides of the same coin but it’s the way we frame the experience that’s most important. If we can appreciate the value and beauty of aloneness it eases the pressure of trying to solve it through a continual search for company.

Sadness

Sadness nearly always leads to a period of withdrawal. Unfortunately this perfectly normal and healthy process is increasingly finding its way into modern medicine as a disease process. Sadness is a painful experience which, when signalled to close friends and relatives, becomes a time they rally around to protect and nurture us. Sadness can provide a safe space for us to lick our wounds and begin to recover. It’s also why we tend to experience epiphanies at low points.

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