I used to think emotions "just happened" and were illogical. I was a victim of my own feelings. I finally got curious enough to start challenging those feelings about feelings, and after years of exploring, I learned emotions actually have a very clear set of rules and structures.

Over a decade ago I wrote about learning to decode this language, here's a key part:

Basic Emotion ... Why We Have It
Anger ... To fight against problems
Anticipation ... To look forward and plan
Joy ... To remind us what's important
Trust ... To connect with people who help
Fear ... To protect us from danger
Surprise ... To focus us on new situations
Sadness ... To connect us with those we love
Disgust ... To reject what is unhealthy
Joshua Freedman
via my friend John K Sawers. And the link included this image:

"from @Mansi on IG reminded me of this life changing journey"
I would add ones too like:

Acceptance ... To cope with an imperfect world
Happiness ... To value what is good

I think those are great reminders about the purpose various emotions carry. I still get hung up on how sometimes - especially the negative or unpleasant emotions like anger or fear - aren't wise enough to recognize the limits they should have. They want the rest of the organism to burn with them. (and sometimes aren't wise but are often deviously clever.)

I've played with the idea that the main counter for an emotion might be another emotion. The urge for Happiness teaming up with Acceptance in telling the urge for Anger to calm the hell down. Maybe when those cross interactions happen early enough, less disruption occurs?

Like I've said, one of my strongest (countering?) emotions is an urge to align myself with a greater good - and I think this emotion is talented, sometimes too talented, at talking down other emotions before they get all fired up. So my personal preferences, my subjective happiness triggers, still matter, but mostly as validated by the idea that everyone should be seeking their individual joys.

I don't know. Is "Acceptance" an emotion in and of itself? I think it's pretty core at the regulation of the other ones. Stopping Anger and Fear from setting everything on fire, stopping Joy from turning us in hedonistic junkies...

Now that I think about it my drive towards Acceptance is really prominent. I can blame it for teaming up with Fear, say, and stopping me from taking too many big swings in life. Also, it lets me be comfortable with and find the cool parts of a much broader swath of people than I would otherwise. Like, I have a surprising number of somewhat incompatible friends, because some of quirks that get under the other's skin in a way that just slides off mine, possibly completely unnoticed...

But most of all maybe Acceptance is the base of that "natural philosophical antidepressent" I seem to be on. It cuts the lows of Fear and Anger. And it doesn't rule out Joy and Happiness, though I do worry it takes the peaks off of some of them...

Low-key obsessed with this photo of Cora's Bearded Dragon Loki. Something about the textures of the back, leg, and cushion, and the limited palette...