On Five Universal Emotions



Our human constructed calendar informs me we are about to move into a new decade. People around the world will be celebrating, releasing the past, embracing the future, making new year resolutions, setting goals and considering change. All around the world, people will be in some state of emotional response. They will be feeling their feelings, because they are human.

Amongst all the change, reverberations and echoes around the word, the one thing that remains constant in the human psyche, is our ability to feel emotions and be impacted by them. What we are not always able to do is to be aware of our emotions and listen to their deeper meaning. If we can do this, we can live in better harmony with ourselves and with others and discover more peace in our lives.

I have been experiencing heightened emotion in recent weeks. As I have been transitioning in and out of each one, sometimes rapidly, I have remained aware and have been monitoring the impact on my body and on my state of being.

I believe we have five basic emotions: anger, sadness, fear, joy and love. Our responses and how we feel these emotions is unique to each and every one of us.

What is anger? For me it is the first sign that I haven’t got what I wanted or what I expected. I get frustrated, irritated and if I am not careful this can escalate into rage and overwhelm me. Anger is often a mask for my past hurts. I rarely let my frustrations escalate into anger, but when I do (and I usually choose to do so as I recognise it is better for me to ‘let it out’), I end up crying. The tears flow as the hurt oozes out.

What is sadness? For me, the sadness I feel is closely linked to my anger. For decades, I hid my hurts and my associated anger. They were turned inward. This spawned my sadness and this too, I hid. However, I no longer hide my sadness. For me it represents loss, the loss of basic needs that as a child and as a young adolescent were never met. Now I celebrate those losses, as they have helped shape me into the person I am today – a loving person who is blossoming and being the very best she can be. My sadness remains with me and I readily express it through melancholy and nostalgia. It is an uplifting and spiritual experience.

What is fear? Fear is an incredibly complex emotion and is unique to each person, but the function of fear – to avoid or reduce the threat of harm and to keep ourselves safe – is universal. Many people keep themselves safe by employing the strategy of avoidance. This works, but is limiting in its nature and can make a person feel trapped and feeling they are not embracing life and living it to the full. I can be that person. I often elect to keep myself safe, rather than to take part in an activity. I recognise and am familiar with my fears and focus on not letting them control me or my life. I equate fear with anxiety – an almost constant ‘hum’ in the background of my life. I am content with this state as whilst my fears are a background hum, I can still witness and take part in the vibrancy of life. I choose to: acknowledge my fears and live with them, analyse my fears and know myself and my responses to them, look after myself and engage in activities wide and varying to enhance my wellbeing.

What is joy? For me joy is more than happiness which I believe is transitionary and born of circumstances. Rather, joy is so much more, it is a good feeling in my soul, like a deep abiding, a mysterious quality. Theopedia defines joy as “a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence and hope.” I am striving for and working towards having more joy in my life!

What is love? Love is indefinable, but I will try anyway! Love is a universal truth. Love is a force of nature. Love is a blessing. Love is bigger than I am. Love is what everyone is seeking whether they realise it or not. Love is a primeval need, a primeval gift. Love is inherently free and therefore we can all partake in love. However, love comes to us not of our own making, but often when we least expect it. We cannot summon it, demand of it nor instil of it. Love is all we need. For me love begets love and I strive to live my life by loving others. It’s not easy, but I have begun by loving myself.

As our human calendar takes us into a new decade, my thoughts are simple. My wish for myself and for everyone is for more love and joy, less anger and sadness and an acknowledgement of fear. Most of all, I wish for all of our emotions to be honoured and embraced. They are what makes us human.




I have been neglectful of my writing of late as I have struggled with my heightened emotions. This has been to my detriment as I know my writing helps me release feelings, find clarity and at the same time escape to a place of intrigue, fascination and deep satisfaction. Moreover, it is good fun and very rewarding. May I swiftly return to my practice of writing and keep it going!


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