CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I've heard that positive and negative emotions can't occupy the mind at the same time.
So it stands to reason that if we just experience positive emotions all the time, the negative ones won't be able to seep in, right? If only it were that easy.
In his seminal work "Think and Grow Rich," author Napoleon Hill spent 20 years interviewing the most successful people in America to learn their secrets. Hill not only explored the richness of material wealth, but also the characteristics that caused these people to lead full, rich lives. His theory breaks down emotions as follows.
While there are many theories on emotions, I've found this one to be very thought-provoking. And I've tried it out on myself. I have to admit that when I'm experiencing one of the positive emotions, there's not much room for the negative ones.
I believe Hill was referring to the present moment when he developed his theory. Obviously, one could feel desire for something and also experience fear about achieving it. Or one could be angry at a spouse and still feel love for him or her. The key, in my opinion, is to recognize which emotions you're feeling in any given situation - in the moment.
If you're stuck in a negative mode, it may be helpful to look at the list of seven positive emotions to see if you can find some reason to experience one of them. Even if it's for a short time, the possibility exists to flip the emotion.
And then there are the situations when we feel like we're being bombarded by multiple emotions all at once. Such was the case last week when I was talking with my good friend and colleague Dick Allowatt. Dick had just returned from a visit to the Cleveland Clinic with more questions than answers. He mentioned he was experiencing all kinds of feelings - anger, confusion and irritation, to name a few.
That prompted me to research the topic of positive and negative emotions - ranging from scientific studies in professional journals to anecdotal references.
Emotion has been described as energy in motion. It's a way of expressing oneself in life - and the quality of how one relates to life.
We're always experiencing some type of emotion or feeling. Our emotional state varies throughout the day as a result of what happens to us - and of the stimuli we perceive. However, we may not always be conscious of it, according to a published review by Gonzales, Barrull, Pons and Marteles on a pioneering study on emotions by professor V.J. Wukmir, author of "Emotion and Suffering." When emotions are described as positive or negative, it's not so much a value judgment as it is a description of the main action of each group.
Negative emotions express an intention to exclude - strengthening one's position at the expense of others. They're fueled by an underlying fear of the unknown, a fear of the actions of others and a need to control them or stop them to avoid being harmed.