Recently, I have been watching a Netflix show titled 100 Humans. The purpose of this show is to take 100 humans and conduct a series of experiments or tests on them to answer some of life’s toughest questions. They tackle a range of topics that vary from racial bias, reaction times, psychosomatic senses, and even if old and young people have a different smell. The results are fascinating and often clearly conclusive.
This show, along with a recent romance of mine, has gotten me to wonder: how does a human feel emotion? I decided to do a quick Google search of “how many emotions a person feels in a day” and I was surprised by the top result. It is known that throughout life people experience an incredible amount and range of emotions. According to the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, as well some scientists from the Netherlands, US and Spain, people feel emotion about 90% of the time in a given day. The top three emotions felt are joy, love, and anxiety. To me this seems like it feels right. I feel love every day for my friends and family, my pets, the work that I do. In the words of Marie Kondo, “This one sparks joy”. However, the things that “do not spark joy” are the things that typically bring me anxiety.
The amount of human emotions is still debated to date. The Pixar movie Inside Out gave a good look into the actions of 5 out of the 6 well-known basic emotions. Psychologist Paul Eckman discovered in the 70's that all humans feel 6 major emotions: happiness, sadness, disgust, fear, surprise, and anger. This is very similar to the emotions that Riley and other characters have in Inside Out, but without surprise. Without getting too technical, human emotions are triggered by different areas of the brain and different chemicals. When there is a chemical imbalance or sensory receptors are blocked, this is what causes different types of mental illnesses, which can cause a person to feel many different emotions or sometimes feel none at all.
One human can feel so many different things and there are a lot of factors in their world that dictate what they feel on a day to day basis. The feelings of 1 human are completely valid and should be validated. I’ve been following a lot of self-help Instagram accounts and they make me finally feel like I am valid, and my feelings are not something I need to apologize for. I know that in a day, I feel a lot of emotions and there is no problem with feeling a lot or a little. Even feeling the same things over and over is not a problem, especially if it is love. Expressing your emotions can often feel like a hard task, especially if it is the first time you are telling someone about them. I find it humorous that a person can have feelings about sharing their feelings, but that is okay!
Human emotions are, in my opinion, one of the hardest things for someone to ever study. Whether it is a psychologist or a neurologist, I think the human brain is so complex and there are so many things and slight modifications that can change what one human feels in an instant second. That is one of the coolest things in the world. To be quite honest, I have always wanted to do a brain scan and see the recording of my emotions changing in live time as my thoughts and feeling change. Are there certain things that trigger me to feel one way or another? What if I feel an emotion no other person has felt yet? Is it possible to see an absence of emotion? There are so many questions that I have unanswered about how one person can feel. I barely understand my own feelings sometimes, and that is totally fine, too. One thing that I know for sure is being able to feel love, joy, sadness, anger and all the rest is an amazing feeling. Though I have struggled with mental illness for years, knowing that I still have all those feelings is a sign to me that I am better and my progress is continuing and happening every day.
Grief is a new feeling I have now as an adult, and it is the hardest emotion I have ever had to process. It is the one emotion that triggers waterworks instantly. The mere thought of my dad or a memory will cause me to cry whether or not it is a happy one or not. I think that is what makes emotions difficult. When you are confronted with one that is new, scary or hard to understand, it can be difficult to control or understand. It took me months to realize I was feeling grief and to let it happen. I decided to stop saying "I'm okay," and start saying "I am grieving still." That was my largest progression this year in terms of my feelings. I have a lot of feelings and this year my goal is to be honest about them and let it happen/.
Whether you’re like me and have a lot of feelings or you are struggling with yours, there is no right or wrong way to feel. One human is so complex and individualistic, and your feelings are unique and special. One human can also affect your life and how you feel, however it is up to you to determinate if you let that one other human effect you in a positive or negative way. I have learned to recognized when someone is messing with my feelings and I no longer tolerate it. That level of growth takes time to achieve but it can be done if you practice it. Remember, you are only one human, and like me you probably feel a lot, but that is normal and wonderful. Keep feeling your feels!