What are emotions? what leads us down a path to certain emotions, or to oscillate between very different states of mind. While pursuing ambitious projects I have often found myself balancing between high ambition, a feeling that I can accomplish anything, and a deeper sadness— that that which I hope to accomplish might be impossible. And since I am most often found working on or thinking about ambitious projects, I wanted to better understand these states of mind.
I think — at least of purely mental emotions (those not primarily (a/e)ffected by diet or exercise) — that a lot of it has to do with how we reconcile our internal and external worlds. It boils down, of course, to perception. At least for these two states of mind that I mentioned, this is how I’d sum them up:
- Ambition: discrepency between actual and desired reality that seems within your reach to change
- Sadness: discrepency between actual and desired reality that seems impossible to change
For example, the death of a family member leads to sadness because your desired reality is that they are still alive, but in actuality they are gone forever, and it is impossible to bring them back.
In this simplified view, these two states of mind appear incredibly similar to each other. In fact, the only difference is in the perception of whether bridging the gap between your desired reality and actual reality is possible or not. As such it becomes easy to see why one might oscillate between these two mental states while working on incredibly ambitious projects, ones which may or may not be possible for you to accomplish. Even the tiniest shifts in perception can bubble up then into huge shifts in behaviour.
I would like, eventually, to create similar simplified models for other emotions so as to better understand their relationships.