Myths about emotion

You are an architect of your experiences – Lisa Feldman

From the author of "How Emotions Are Made" and "Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain", Lisa Feldman shares what emotions are.

Myth #1: Emotions are hard-wired into the brain at birth and is universal across all humans and animals.

Myth #2: The brain produces emotion in a very reactive way.

It's based on the idea that you have an animalistic part of your brain, when your rational side of your brain wins, you're moral and healthy person.

If the irrationals side wins, then you're an immoral person.

It can feel like emotions happen to you, they bubble up, and cause you to do bad things, but that doesn't capture how emotions are made.

So what is emotion really?

It's not feelings.

Feelings are properties, an episode, an instance of emotion.

Just like sound can be quiet or loud. You can be activated or calm.

Your brain is telling itself a story about what is going on inside your body in relation to what's happening in the world.

It's creating this story using knowledge about emotion from your past to predict what you're going to see, and hear and feel.

That's what emotion is.

It's also an explanation of every thought, feeling, and action.

The main takeaway I got is that emotions do not happen to you, they're created based on our past experiences.

Another way to say this is emotions form based on our interpretations and expectations.

Knowledge of a past event is fed to the brain which predict how we're supposed to feel, when we a similar event in the present.

We also have more control of your emotions that you think.

Lisa talks about cultivating new experiences as a way to change our emotions.

Watch movies, learned something new, do things that require you to have different experiences that gets you outside of the normal range of what your brain will predict.

We're the only ones who can change our emotions.

And we always have tools at our disposal to feel differently and act differently.