The human mind is an amazing thing, and we may never know everything about it because it can be so complicated. Our mind can be divided into two distinctions: the rational and logical, and the emotional. The world currently puts more emphasis on rationality over emotion, especially because everything depends on the concrete ideas that come from science and math. However, emotions are sometimes actually regarded as a weakness because they can “get in the way”. While too much of anything is a bad thing, emotions in themselves aren’t something to be discredited. As much as we would like be believe otherwise, emotions are an important part of healthy mental well-being, sometimes even superseding rationality when we have to make important decisions. If we don’t find a way to embrace and accept our emotional side, we may never be able to control it or know its power. Below are some amazing facts about our emotions:
1. Our Sense Of Smell Affects Our Emotions
Even though memories have images, they always have an emotion attached to them. For example, we like songs that invoke an emotional response from us, such as associating a song with a happy or a sad memory or relating to the lyrics. However, the sense that is most directly liked to the emotional center of the brain is our sense of smell. This is because in the past, we used to rely heavily on our sense of smell to stay alive. This means that senses leave an impact on our memories more strongly than other senses. Moreover, smells also have a direct path to the amygdala, or the emotional center of the brain.
2. Emotions Dictate Morality
We may think that our sense of morality tends to dictate our emotions, that is we believe that hurting people is wrong because we have learned it is wrong. However, science suggests that it may actually be other other way around: our emotions dictate how we think about morality. When the image of one person injuring the other is shown to a person, their amygdala (emotional center of the brain) lit up 250 milliseconds before the TPJ (the area that evaluates our actions and is related to morality). At the end of the day, it is comforting to know that people don’t always need to be taught right or wrong.
3. Dreaming Can Help With Painful Memories
Sleep is certainly necessary for our bodies to repair and heal themselves, but sleep also goes beyond that. It is critical for our mental well-being, especially emotional processing and recovering from traumatic experiences. When we sleep, the body’s production of stress-related hormones decreases significantly. When painful memories are processed without these chemicals, the emotional sting can also diminish, making the memories more factual, and in the process, less painful.
4. Negative Emotions Are Hard To Fake
We may all like to think that we can fake our emotions pretty easily, like faking excitement for an unwanted gift or being fake happy at a social gathering. However, negative emotions like anger and sadness cannot be faked very easily, and almost always show up even if you try to hid them. This is because there is a conflict when you are feeling an emotion like sadness: while your body wants you to cry, you are controlling your facial muscles and your muscles are pulled in different directions, resulting in your lips quivering. Emotions like anger and fear also cause tension between competing sets of muscles and always show up on the forehead or neck.
5. Negative Emotions Can Be Beneficial
While it is true that positive thinking is good for our overall well-being, it doesn’t always have to be that negative emotions are highly detrimental to us. Negative thoughts are important for us to understand and process our experiences, and attempting to suppress or ignore them can take a toll on our emotional stability. It isn’t feeling negative emotions that is beneficial, but the ability to acknowledge, understand and process them. While positive thinking is good for us, too much of it can actually stop us from seeing reality for what it really is.