I was fortunate enough to attend Being Human 2012 today as part of the press. I plan on writing a full rundown of the event, but in the meantime I want to briefly post on what Paul Ekman talked about today (briefly, as in, I’m on my way to see Hunger Games in a bit. I know you’re thinking…nerd).
Two things he said were immediately striking to me.
1. That he challenges the notion of positive and negative emotions.
2. That every emotion can be experienced constructively and destructively.
These two notions spoke volumes to my buddhist heart. I strive to live in a morally ambiguous state of mind. This is not to be mistaken for morally ambivalent. It is also not to say that I don’t follow some sort of moral compass. I simply find absolutes to be bothersome, especially along the emotional spectrum. I’ve seen people do irrational things out of love that hurt others and I’ve experienced hate and anger that can be used to great positive effect. The vice versa hold true, also. It’s all about the context of our experience. The emotional spectrum can be used in such vastly different contexts that it is folly to categorize which is a positive or negative emotion. Is all love good? Is it good to love someone and in the process smother them? Is all hate bad? Can anger not be used to drive ambition and help reach positive goals? Is frustration a negative if it leads to pushing forward to find a solution to a problem? Is relief a positive if it encourages ignorance of a larger situation? These things I ponder on constantly and yet I find that most people I encounter are not comfortable challenging the notion of categorizing positive and negative emotions.
I believe that we need to be more open to challenging ourselves in this way to learn and ultimately evolve and understand. Richie Davidson said today, “The very practice of science is an opportunity to embody and cultivate honesty.” Let us use the opportunities that are present before us to explore our self truths and not hide behind fear and mundanity. Frank Herbert wrote in Dune, “Fear is the mind killer”
Long live the fighters! I’m such a sci-fi geek…