Different Emotions – Are Only 4 Available?

May 15, 2015

I want to talk very quickly about the different emotions that are available in daily life. One of the reasons that I like to talk about emotions a lot is that as human beings we are always in an emotion.

We may not know what emotion it is but we are always in an emotion. Did you know conventional wisdom suggests that there are only about six basic emotions?

Even René Descartes only talked about six major ones. And that was 400 years ago when he wrote Passions! And these are the classic different emotions of:

  • Happy
  • Surprise
  • Fear
  • Disgust
  • Anger
  • Sadness

What I find interesting is that even though there are six “different emotions” in the classic thinking, there are so many words in the English language to define emotions.

Only 4 Different Emotions?!

writing at officeAt the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Glasgow there’s a new study that suggests only 4 different emotions available! To that I say it’s unfortunate actually.

I find that the complexity of all the variety of different emotions that any human being can feel is tremendously powerful. Let me give you an example of this:

What’s the difference between anger, irritation, being irked, annoyed and in rage?

I just named five different emotions and they span a spectrum of emotions. In fact they span apparently one emotion, that of anger. I’m not saying that to disparage any of the work done by current research. However, I want to invite you to consider that the list of available human emotions is much, much greater than the four that suggest by new studies!

One of the things that I like to do especially with leadership life coaching is exploring how you show up in presence. To me, this means exploring the emotions you have in your conversations.

Let’s look at anger for instance. Knowing that you’re in an emotion of anger will definitely have an impact on the kind of conversation that you will have at work. Another emotion of satisfaction and compassion will definitely have a tremendous impact on the conversations you have with your family.

Even though the new research suggests that there are only four emotions I’d like to give you a slightly longer list of emotions that you have available to you. I got these from the dictionary which suggest that there is a lot more than four emotions. Are you ready?

  • Fear
  • Compassion
  • Guilt
  • Sadness
  • Satisfaction
  • Passion
  • Pessimism
  • Joy
  • Wonder
  • Trust
  • Commitment
  • Irritation
  • Confusion
  • Compliance

These are just a few emotions that are available to you. When you learn to actually make use of them in your conversations, then it is possible to show up as a leader.

My Questions And Invitation

My questions and my invitation to you are:

  • Do you know what your emotions are?
  • Can you describe them?
  • Are you able to make use of your emotions to show up in presence as a leader and take control of your conversations?

If this is something of interest to you, I’d love to hear from you! Please share your comments and ideas below. Take care of yourself and have a beautiful day. Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel and I’ll see you in the next video.