Befriending anxiety in 2011. Huzzah!

Happy New Year! In these first days of 2011, I wish you health, strong relationships, emotional awareness, peace, empathy, compassion, humor, meaningful work, and excellent rest! So many of us went through upheavals in 2010 that I think we could all use a rest and a break. Here’s a strange idea: Let’s befriend anxiety! I’ve been thinking a lot about fear and anxiety this month, and … Read More

A holiday gift for your emotions

Holidays can be wonderful, but they can also be difficult if family or work relationships are strained. During the holidays, I see many people respond to difficult relationships by isolating themselves (or wishing they could), and I’d like to suggest a different tactic: gossip. Hold on! I’m not talking about any old gossip. I suggest ethical empathic gossip. There’s a little back story here.  Many years … Read More

Are you positive about emotions?

As tan bear clearly shows us, if there’s one thing many people know about emotions, it’s the idea that there are positive ones and negative ones. But it’s not just silly cartoon animals that share this idea: In emotion research, the categorization of emotions into the two simple categories of positivity and negativity is called valencing. Valencing theory tells us that there are two kinds of … Read More

Are you a skilled emotionologist?

As psychology, neuroscience, and primatology leap forward in understanding, we’re finally remembering that empathy and emotions are essential to our intelligence. The old, tired idea that emotions are the opposite of rationality has been superseded by this: emotions and rationality are partners in cognition. You can’t think clearly without your emotions, and you can’t emote skillfully without your verbal, rational intelligence. One aspect of your cognition … Read More

Imaginary or imaginal?

Our site pal Mike Stumpf has asked me to explain the difference between imaginary and imaginal, because I mention our imaginal abilities in my book. It’s a good question, Mike! I think we all know what imaginary things are: they’re unreal things we might fear or wish for, like a bogey man or the Easter Bunny. We mostly know that these things aren’t real, but we can … Read More

The Shadow Knows

In the 1930s, there was an excellent radio show called The Shadow that enchanted millions of people, my father included. The Shadow was a serialized detective show, and each week, the announcer would ask in a deep baritone voice: “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!“ In 1937, the young Orson Wells lent his voice to the radio show and … Read More

What’s so funny ’bout “negative” emotions?

Last week, I spoke at two bookstores here in California. During one Q&A, someone asked me about the ideas a current spiritual teacher has about emotions. This teacher says that emotions are the body’s responses to thoughts. I blurted out “Oh, he’s full of sh!t.” Out loud. I experienced a complete failure of my internal monologue system. Oh shiiiite! You could hear a pin drop, and … Read More

Intuition is what?

People are very interested in increasing their intuition, and there’s a fascinatingly mistaken idea about intuition in many circles, which is that intuition has nothing to do with thoughts or emotions — that it comes from another place altogether. In point of fact, intuition isn’t otherworldly or extrasensory; it’s clearly an empathic skill that we all possess, and it comes directly from our emotions. In my … Read More

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