How do I love you, let me count the ways.
I ran across a list of emotions the other day. There were approximately 260 words on the list.
I forgot how many different ways I could feel. I always get stuck on the”7” basic emotions used in psychology: anger, fear, disgust, contempt, joy, sadness and surprise. But wow, you can feel a lot of different ways.
I guess we just have too much emotion to be contained by seven words. Joy lacks the needed emphasis to tell you how awesome I am feeling. There’s a lot of nuance to it, isn’t there?
I looked over the list. Here’s a chunk of the list:
Bliss, blue, boastful, bored, breathless, bubbly, calamitous, calm, camaraderie, cautious, cheerful, cocky, cold, collected.
Not sure how “scientific” the list is but I got to thinking if the list might trend in some way. So I divided them up into positive, negative and neutral in some kind of a Rorschachian method.
I didn’t know what I was looking for. For a while I thought I could see a pattern that the letter “R” was being more associated with negative emotions. That didn’t really prove out but it got me to notice something else.
The thing I did notice is that there seemed to be about 50% more words for negative emotions than for positive. (The neutral were about half the positive). Well, just like in our seven basic emotions from above, we seem more adept or interested or able to name negative emotions. That got me to thinking about communication, then about words, then about poetry.
There is a lot of poetry in the world. I certainly haven’t read that much of it. But I think a lot of it has themes in line with our seven basic emotions (if we exclude the large volumes associated with death). And so much of the poetry I have read I would call positive, even when dealing with sad and horrible things. Which I would say is interesting in that there seem to be (based on my scientific methods above) so many more negative words and thus emotions available to wax poetic about.
Is that perhaps because poetry is like therapy? You don’t go to therapy to be less happy or content. You go to feel better, to get better. Which makes sense to me and I can say that I am glad there is not a lot of hate and anger mongering poetry. Poetry appears to be good for the soul.
So next time you are having a rough day, stop and write a line poetry, just one line. It’s like free therapy. And Easy. No one will judge (unless you do).
Here, I’ll start. Here’s a line off the cuff to make me feel better.
“In the time of need I asked for bread when I needed water, for wine when I needed love.”
I feel better already.
Now you try it. It might remind you of all the wonderful emotions you can feel if you just paused and enjoyed them.