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Identifying Your Emotions is the Key to Exponential Happiness



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In the weeks and months following the heinous terror attacks of September 11, millions of Americans decreased their domestic air travel. As domestic flying decreased, car travel increased where a study found that people opted to drive longer distances rather than fly. Not taking into account 9/11, there were 331 airplane crash fatalities in the U.S from 1751 crash events. What’s interesting is there were 42,000 driving-related deaths in that same year. The number of deaths in air travel and road travel remained relatively consistent in subsequent years.

Statistics imply that post 9/11, Americans were more willing to risk mortality of long-distance car travel rather than adopt the minimal risk of air travel, presumably due to the perception of risk involved from terrorism threats. We can believe that the September 11 terrorist attacks may have resulted in a secondary toll of deaths as people made poor choices to avoid scenarios of risk. What has been made clear, is any large-scale threat to public safety affects our emotions and the decisions we make

Our Emotional Responses

Our emotional responses are a reaction to the world around us. We’re supposed to smile at babies because it’s our evolutionary advantage to give infants positive emotions. We’re supposed to react with a fight or flight response under perceived danger because self-preservation is part of our DNA. What we don’t often think about is the thousands of micro reactions we face every day. The waiter at the restaurant is polite, so we respond with kindness. 

The car next to us cuts us off in traffic, so we abuse them. While many emotional expressions are universal, sociocultural norms can dictate how we respond when coming across an intense emotion. For example, in Japan, people tend to hide their display of fear or disapproval when an authoritative figure is present. Conversely, in western culture like the United States, people are more likely to express their negative emotions in their presence and with others.   

We can come across an intense emotion, not ignore it, control it, and use it to make the world a better place. Climate change, domestic abuse and human trafficking are all relevant examples in today’s world. Even protests of racial injustice become fueled by emotion. The adverse reaction we may feel about these issues can be used more positively by donating our time, helping others, or educating ourselves and those around us to become more aware. 

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” – Dale Carnegie

Emotion is our human way of putting a meaningful stamp on our experiences. They are a key driver in our behaviour and shape our responses to what’s around us. Emotions enable us to make decisions, take action, connect and communicate with others, and build meaningful friendships and relationships. Our feelings are either short-lived or long-lasting. Understanding emotional behaviour in others informs us how to adapt our behaviour accordingly.

In our daily lives, we are often told not to ‘get too emotional’. When females show emotion,  others see it as showing “too much”, or “overreacting”. Conversely, when men show too much emotion, or any form of emotion- Others may see it as being “weak”. 

Emotions and Decision Making

Many of the decisions we make in our lives are almost instant and based on emotion. We’re not always in charge and can be too impulsive or deliberate for our own good. One moment we get a hot head and explode with the confidence of an idea; the next we’re paralysed by uncertainty. Antonio Damasio’s research has been instrumental in helping humans understand how emotions influence our behaviour- in particular, how we make decisions. 

One of Damasio’s studies took a look into those who had damage to the brain’s emotional circuitry. In addition to finding that such people could not feel emotions, he also uncovered that they are unable to make decisions. The patients were able to describe the action they should be taking, but could not settle on a decision, even as simple as what to eat. Emotions enable us to weigh up options and come to what we believe to be the best outcome for ourselves. They are a vital component of our decision-making process. 

When making a decision, we look for a way to satisfy a basic human need: happiness. It is why many of our choices are unconscious attempts to avoid guilt, fear and negative feelings, whilst trying to enhance our positive emotions simultaneously. 

The strong influence our emotions have over our thought process means that our decisions are susceptible to error. And because we value our time, decisions are often fast and automatic, where we can feel a certain way for as long as possible. We then don’t often realise the full impact of the emotional interference in our decisions.

“Human behavior flows from three main sources: Desire, emotion and knowledge.” – Plato

3 Ways To Identify and Help Our Emotions

Our emotions are there for a reason. They act as the rudder of a ship that helps us navigate and steer through calm and rough seas. Taking time to understand our emotions and feelings not only spares us from unexpected breakdowns, but it’s also how we can create a happier self and live a happier life. 

  1. Take time to engage with people. Read the emotions in their faces and show them you’re listening and paying attention. Visual feedback and facial cues often work well where your mirror neurons are activated and help you become more engaged.
  2. Communicate your emotions with others. Learn to articulate your thoughts and feelings and feel whether your automatic response is appropriate. Suppose you can identify the source of the emotional trigger. In that case, you will be able to assess the emotional temperature of a conversation better and defuse any tension through your actions. 
  3. Slow Down. Think and assess what is happening around you. Our decision-making is capable of making errors in judgement and becomes easily influenced. By applying logical and rational thinking, you will be able to judge situations more effectively. 

With exercising to help your emotions consistently, the growth that comes with it will set you up for success. Whether it’s personally or professionally, nurturing how you feel and becoming aware of strategies in dealing with emotions will create exponential happiness.

Blake is a writer, reader, sports lover and creator of He shares his thoughts through writing on Productivity, Healthy Habits, Athlete Inspiration and Health + Fitness. When he's not writing and reading,  he is boxing or socialising. You can take part in his Habit and Productivity Challenge here.

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If Your Work/Life Balance is Out of Tune Here’s What to Do

When we don’t find a healthy work/life balance, our personal lives may fall out of tune



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It’s easy to get stuck in the grind, especially when it comes to work. You want to get ahead, find success and can almost feel a ‘high’ or sense of ‘keeping up with everyone else’ when you work hard. And while working hard is admirable, it may not always be healthy. (more…)

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Escaping the “Perfect” Trap: How to Find Freedom and Fulfillment

Our desire and need for perfection is a belief, not the truth. 



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Your Life, Your Ship: How to Captain Your Journey to Self-Fulfillment

Just as a ship’s captain determines its course and destination, you have the power to shape your life’s path



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Life is often compared to a journey, and in this grand expedition, you are the captain of your ship. Just as a ship’s captain determines its course and destination, you have the power to shape your life’s path and steer it towards fulfillment. (more…)

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How to Combine Stoic and Minimalist Principles for Optimal Living

By embracing Stoicism’s wisdom and Minimalism’s clarity, we can create a life that is truly meaningful



Image Credit: Midjourney

In our fast-paced, the principles of Stoicism and Minimalism have emerged as beacons of clarity and wisdom. These philosophies, while distinct in their approaches, share a common goal: to simplify our lives and cultivate a sense of purpose and contentment.

In this article, we will explore the great impact of Stoicism and Minimalism on our lives and the transformative benefits of incorporating them into our daily lives.

The Essence of Stoicism

Stoicism is an ancient Greek philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium around 300 BCE. It teaches us to focus on what we can control and accept what we cannot. At its core, Stoicism is about cultivating resilience, wisdom, and inner peace in the face of life’s challenges.

Emotional Resilience

Stoicism teaches us to acknowledge and regulate our emotions. By practicing emotional detachment and rational thinking, we can better navigate the ups and downs of life. When we understand that external events are beyond our control, we learn to channel our energy into mastering our reactions.

Living in the Present

Stoicism encourages us to live in the present moment. By letting go of regrets about the past and anxieties about the future, we find contentment in the here and now. This mindfulness fosters a deep appreciation for the simple pleasures of life.

Freedom through Simplicity

Stoicism’s emphasis on minimalism is evident in its approach to material possessions. By reducing our attachment to material things, we free ourselves from the burden of constant desire. This freedom allows us to focus on what truly matters: our character, virtues, and relationships.

“Stoicism teaches that we can’t control or rely on anything outside what Epictetus called our “reasoned choice” – our ability to use our reason to choose how we categorize, respond, and reorient ourselves to external events.” — Ryan Holiday

The Essence of Minimalism

Minimalism is a lifestyle philosophy that gained popularity in recent years. It advocates for simplifying our lives by decluttering both physical possessions and mental distractions. Minimalism is not about deprivation but rather about focusing on what adds value and meaning to our lives.

Clarity and Purpose

Minimalism helps us cut through the noise of consumerism and endless distractions. By decluttering our physical and digital spaces, we create room for clarity and purpose. We can better identify what truly matters and allocate our time and energy accordingly.

Reduced Stress and Overwhelm

In a world filled with constant stimuli, minimalism offers a refuge from the overwhelming influx of information and material possessions. Simplifying our environment and commitments reduces stress and fosters a sense of calm and tranquility.

Financial Freedom

Minimalism often leads to more mindful spending. By prioritizing needs over wants, we can save money, pay off debt, and achieve financial freedom. This financial stability provides peace of mind and opens up opportunities for experiences that enrich our lives.

The Synergy of Stoicism and Minimalism

While Stoicism and Minimalism are distinct philosophies, they complement each other beautifully, creating a powerful synergy that can transform our lives.

Cultivating Resilience

Stoicism’s emphasis on emotional resilience helps us navigate the challenges of adopting a minimalist lifestyle. When we encounter resistance to letting go of possessions or simplifying our lives, Stoic principles can guide us through the process with patience and fortitude.

Prioritizing What Truly Matters

Together, these philosophies encourage us to prioritize what truly matters in life. We learn to let go of the unnecessary distractions and material possessions that weigh us down, allowing us to focus on relationships, personal growth, and experiences that bring us joy and fulfillment.

Finding Contentment

The goal of Stoicism and Minimalism is to find contentment and inner peace. By embracing these philosophies, we can escape the cycle of constant desire and comparison that often leads to discontentment. Instead, we find contentment in the present moment and in the simplicity of our lives.

Practical Steps to Embrace Stoicism and Minimalism

  1. Start with Self-Awareness: Reflect on your values and priorities. What truly matters to you? What possessions or distractions no longer align with these values?
  2. Declutter Mindfully: Begin by decluttering your physical space. Donate, sell, or recycle items that no longer serve a purpose or bring you joy. Gradually extend this process to your digital life and commitments.
  3. Practice Stoic Principles: Study Stoic philosophy and incorporate its principles into your daily life. Learn to differentiate between what’s within your control and what isn’t. Practice emotional resilience and mindfulness.
  4. Set Minimalist Goals: Set specific minimalist goals, such as reducing your wardrobe or cutting back on digital screen time. Start small and gradually expand your minimalist practices.
  5. Seek Support: Join minimalist or Stoic communities, both online and offline, to connect with like-minded individuals who can offer guidance and support on your journey.

The impact of Stoicism and Minimalism on our lives cannot be overstated. These philosophies guide us toward emotional resilience, simplicity, and contentment in an increasingly complex world. By embracing Stoicism’s wisdom and Minimalism’s clarity, we can create a life that is truly meaningful, purposeful, and fulfilling.

Remember that the journey toward a more Stoic and minimalist existence is a lifelong one, filled with growth and self-discovery, but the rewards are boundless—a life rich in meaning, wisdom, and inner peace.

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