Feeling BLUE?Posted: February 18, 2011
If you are feeling down, I have some advice for you: keep your chin up. Literally. It will make you feel better. As cliched as it sounds, “keep your chin up” is practical advice. This is because the real stuff of emotions is not abstract mental states, but all of the physical changes that accompany them.
If you do not trust me on this point, perhaps you will trust the dog whisperer Caesar Milan. He occasionally advises people to hold up their dog’s tail because that is how a confident dog holds its tail. The dog, feeling its body physically displaying confidence, actually becomes confident. Looking confident (or, more properly, physically experiencing confidence) is being confident. The same is true for all of the standard emotions.
“That is all very well for dogs,” you say, “but I am nearly twice as intelligent as a dog; my brain surely could not be fooled so easily.” However, the great American psychologist William James asserts that it really is just that simple: “Smooth the brow, brighten the eye, contract the dorsal rather than the ventral aspect of the frame, and speak in a major key, pass the genial compliment, and your heart must be frigid indeed if it do not gradually thaw!”
Beer of the week: OB BLUE – The name “BLUE” is supposedly an acronym for “Brewed at Low temperature, matUred and fErmented.” Since the beer is a pale lager, the name is appropriate enough (if a little odd.) This beer has one distinct high-point: the smell. OB Blue has a pleasant hoppy aroma. Its bouquet (as connoisseurs might say) is not quite as strong as Pilsner Urquell, but still reminiscent of a fine pilsner. The taste is a bit sweet and doesn’t have as much hop flavor as the aroma suggests, but as far as Korean macro-brews go, this is the best I’ve encountered.
Reading for the week: What is an Emotion? by William James – In this article, James proposes his theory that the physical manifestations of an emotion are really “the entire fund and capital of the emotion.” One does not weep because he is sad, rather one calls his weeping, the tightness in his chest, and all the other related physical reactions “sadness.”
Question for the week: Were it possible to completely habituate oneself against the pangs and sobbing of grief or the elevated heart rate and flushing of anger, would it be worth it? Doesn’t one lose something of his humanity by effectively ridding his body of these emotions?