Emotions WE Share in Common
Even young children know what feelings are – maybe even better than adults do. They watch our faces; scan for acceptance, anger, and excitement and then they respond.
- Happy means: getting things we want, need and like.
- Sadness means: taking away things we want, need and like.
Happy and sad are universal emotional responses, which are instinctual – they are hardwired into our cells. I even believe many animals have these responses. I call these emotional responses Vital Instincts.
Both sad and happy are emotions everyone experiences. No one has to teach us these emotions. We may differ on what makes us happy or sad. However we both experience these emotions.
I Want Happy Back …
When my grandson, Gideon, was 3 and a half, he ran across the living room to get to a couch he wanted to play on. You could see the look on his face as he scooted across the room. He was in pure ecstasy envisioning how he was going to tumble into the huge fluffy cushions on the sofa and jump around on the fluffy pillows.
On the way he fell, and the look of joy and happiness disappeared and was replaced by tears and sadness. Becky, my daughter saw the fall and went to help him get up and wipe his tears. She was all prepared to hug him and kiss him and make him feel better.
"Are you okay"? She asked as she reached out to comfort him. Now whimpering a bit Gideon was looking like he was pulling himself together. Becky looked him in the eyes again and said, "Are you okay?" Gideon wiped his eyes and said, "I'm okay, I'm okay. I just want 'happy back."
We all know when 'happy disappears' and we all know when happy is back. Happy makes us feel really good about the world, about ourselves, about the future. Happy is optimistic, while sad is pessimistic. Every culture has a happy and a sad.
Gideon reminded me of the simple yet so important nature of life. When we are happy we experience life as an unfolding, positive story in our life. Our biochemistry is 'happy' – our fear levels are down and our ability to reach out to others in our world an experiment goes up. Our interactions with others are positive and engaging – happy people can shift the chemistry in a room, lifting spirits and energy in seconds.
At Benchmark, our Creating WE Institute has been researching 'happy and sad' as part of our study of the Neuroscience of WE and we are working with biofeedback tools that can measure 'happy' and 'sad' through the way our hearts beat.
Last week I visited my daughter and her family. Truth be told, my 'stress' was high, and I was having trouble finding 'happy.'
I got an idea. I thought, "What if I show Gideon how to use the tools – might we both have fun 'finding happy together.' Lo and behold something miraculous happened.
The first day, Gideon could move from 'red' to 'green' quite quickly – in fact, much faster than I did.
As we worked together he told me, "If you try too hard, you can't bring happy back!" Well, he was right. My stress and my trying too hard had become a hardwired pattern that I had not seen. The harder I tried, the redder the light became. The more I learned how to shift from my head to my heart, the more a green glow appeared.
Gideon fell in love with the process. The next morning he came into the room where I was working and sat next to me. He connected the clip to my ear and turned it on. He put his little arm around my shoulder and snuggled next to me every so sweetly and said, "Mama Judy, let's bring happy back!"
Wisdom from the Heart
Gideon taught me happy is something that I can use for the rest of my life… and luckily he's learning early. He also told me when you 'try too hard' and 'focus too much' you can't find Happy. He also reminded me the importance of snuggling and cuddling – happy is more than a solo event …
Judith E. Glaser is the Author of two best selling business books:
Creating WE: Change I-Thinking to We-Thinking & Build a Healthy Thriving Organization – winner of the Bronze Award in the Leadership Category of the 2008 Axiom Business Book Awards, and The DNA of Leadership; and the DVD and Workshop titled The Leadership Secret of Gregory Goose