|Roue des émotions de Plutchik|
WHEN the world gets you down, do you feel just generally “bad”? Or do you have more precise emotional experiences, such as grief or despair or gloom?In psychology, people with finely tuned feelings are said to exhibit “emotional granularity.”[…]With higher emotional granularity, however, your brain may construct a more specific emotion, such as righteous indignation, which entails the possibility of specific actions. You might telephone a friend and rant about the water crisis. You might Google “lead poisoning” to learn how to better protect your children. You might call your member of Congress and demand change. You are no longer an overwhelmed spectator but an active participant. You have choices. This flexibility ultimately reduces wear and tear on your body (e.g., unnecessary surges of cortisol).The good news is that emotional granularity is a skill, and many people can increase theirs by learning new emotion concepts. I mean this literally: learning new words and their specific meanings. If you weren’t familiar with the term “pena ajena” that I mentioned earlier, for example, you’ve now increased your potential for granularity. Schoolchildren who learn more emotion concepts have improved social behavior and academic performance, as research by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence shows. If you incorporate such concepts into your daily life, your brain will learn to apply them automatically.Emotion concepts are tools for living. The bigger your tool kit, the more flexibly your brain can anticipate and prescribe actions, and the better you can cope with life.
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In each study, Pennebaker found that the people who wrote about emotionally charged episodes experienced marked improvement in their physical and mental well-being. They were happier, less depressed and less anxious. In the months after the writing sessions, they had lower blood pressure, improved immune function, and fewer visits to the doctor. They also reported better relationships, improved memory, and more success at work.[…]After many more studies, with many thousands of participants — children and the elderly, students and professionals, healthy and ill — we can say with confidence that showing up and applying words to emotions is a tremendously helpful way to deal with stress, anxiety, and loss. (For people who don’t like putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, there is nothing magical about the act of writing. Talking into a voice recorder, for example, can deliver the same results.)But after showing up, there’s another critical aspect of agility: Stepping out. Deeper analysis over the years shows that unlike brooders or bottlers, or those who let it all hang out in big venting rants, the writers who thrived the most began to develop insight, using phrases such as “I have learned,” “It struck me that,” “the reason that,” “I now realize,” and “I understand.” In the process of writing, they were able to create the distance between the thinker and the thought, the feeler and the feeling, that allowed them to gain a new perspective, unhook, and move forward.Make no mistake: these people had not found a way to enjoy being betrayed, lost, jobless, or critically ill. But by dissolving the entanglement that had built up between their impulses and their actions to see their experience in context, and from a broader perspective, they flourished despite it all. More often than you might expect, they found ways of turning these obstacles into opportunities to connect more directly with their deepest values.Pennebaker’s Writing Rules:Set a timer for 20 minutes. Open up your notebook (or begin a document on your computer). When the timer starts, begin writing about your emotional experiences from the past week, month and year. Don’t worry about punctuation, sloppiness or coherence. Simply go wherever your mind takes you, curiously and without judgment. Write just for yourself, and not for some eventual reader. Do this for a few days. Then, close the document without saving it, or throw the paper away. Or stick it in a bottle and cast it out to sea. Or if you’re ready, start a blog or find a literary agent.It doesn’t matter. The point is that those thoughts are now out of you and on the page. You have begun the process of ‘stepping out’ from your experience to gain perspective on it.