Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Simple Wisdom

I just recently realized that, apparently, in our home, there are only two general emotions.  When Noah does something 'disagreeable' and I end up morphing into a monster in some way or another, expect him to say with much apprehension, "You mad, Mommy?"  The interesting thing is, when you answer 'no' to that question, what he'll say next is, "You happy??"  

It's either mad or happy.  "You mad? happy?", is what you'll often hear Noah ask us when we seem upset.  I've been very tempted to explain to him that there are far more complicated emotions than those two such as anxious/worried, sad/depressed, excited, confused, proud, embarrassed, surprised, disappointed, indifferent, and many other combinations, some of which humanity probably hasn't accurately labelled as of yet.  But a part of me wants to keep it simple for him too.  Yes, he's aware of the words 'sad', 'disappointed', and 'worried' (most especially 'worry', I'm sure) so it's not like I'm limiting his vocabulary.  It's just that sometimes I wonder how life would be like if we really only had those two emotions.  Of course I've wondered too why to Noah it's just those two things but obviously the answer is because those are the two strongest ones, the two most detectable ones he often sees us experience.  

Actually, if you think about it, it's really not as simple as it seems because being 'mad'/angry as they say is symptomatic of pain; that people who are angry are really, deep down, in pain.  So, I guess when Noah says what he says (or should I say, asks what he asks), we're not just confined to two simple emotions, anger and happiness, but also hurt/pain and therefore, sadness.  That being said, I wonder if Noah could be on to something here (and I'm really having this eureka moment right now as I write).  

Isn't it true that when  we're other than 'happy', we are experiencing some degree of pain in our being?  When we are worried, afraid, mortified or anxious about something, isn't that a painful experience somehow?  Doesn't fear cause some degree of anguish, especially in terms of our mental state? When we are disappointed, isn't that also pain, an injury to an expectation we have set? When we are embarrassed, isn't that when our egos are bruised and hurting somehow?  Perhaps it is true that every perceivable emotion is rooted in either happiness or pain, either a state of feeling whole and content or a state of injury and incompletion.  

It would be interesting, to say the least, to assess at the end of the day how we've been in terms of these two states of being.  At the end of each day, are you happy, whole?  Or do you feel some pain, some feeling of injury somewhere, somehow?  I know some of you would say it's far more complicated than this and that I'm over simplifying things.  Am I?  Or maybe we've been unnecessarily complicating things all this time instead of just going to the basics.  Picture yourself asking just that question at the end of the day.  If you answered 'pain' instead of 'happiness', doesn't that make you want to ask yourself more what the source of your pain or injury is?  And if so, doesn't it make you want to do something about it to change it?  

Doesn't it also make you want to give a different answer the next time you ask yourself the question?  If you were feeling some degree of pain or injury but know in your heart that it's not overwhelming enough to disregard the numerous pockets of happiness you've experienced during the course of the day, won't it make more sense to claim happiness?  Won't it make more sense to choose to view your cup as half-full, rather than half-empty?  Either way, whether confronting the question makes you look deeper within and change something to make you more whole and content, or makes you overlook the minor bumps and humps and claim fullness and happiness instead of pain and discontent, this 'oversimplification' seems good and worth giving it a shot.

If only for that, if only for the potential to either become more self-aware in a simpler manner or be braver in claiming happiness for ourselves at the end of each day, then it would be fair to consider Noah's innocent question  as truly priceless.

So, ask away.....You mad?....You happy?

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