When we look around we see a variety of faces: smiling faces, sad faces, astonished faces, faces contorted with pain etc. The facial mimic is an expression of what we feel inside, an expression of our emotions. Emotions are short term physiological states which vary in intensity.
There are two types of emotions: positive and negative. The only positive emotion is joy whereas there are several negative reactions: fear, anxiety, fury, disgust and sadness. This fact arises some questions: What is the role of the emotions and why is there only one positive emotion and such a variety of negative emotions? The second question receives a partial answer from the response to the first question.
Emotions are also called the engine of life because of the fact that they start a behavior, energize it and sustain it. They have an adaptive role and this is the main reason for the positive/ negative record.
Joy alone is able to start, energize and sustain any type of behavior, from the physical activities to the brain activities and eventually to the spiritual ones. It is well-known that when we are happy our body releases serotonin and glucose which induce a state of comfort and also strengthens our immunity. Joy is also a remedy when we are ill or injured because of other substances released by our body when we are happy, which ease the pain and redo some of the injured cells. Regarding negative emotions, things are different. Each type of emotion belongs to a different type of behavior. For example, when we see fire, our fear makes our body to release adrenaline and we run or we have the courage to go back in the flames and save people. Anger wouldn't have led to a good answer for this particular situation.
A further question would be: how are emotions formed?
Well, emotions are the reactions to some stimuli that we encounter in our everyday life. These stimuli could be a certain situation, a certain event or a certain person. We might think that the nature of the stimuli immediately resides into a specific type of emotion. For example, a bad circumstance, such as a slap from a good friend, would normally lead to a negative emotion. Another component of emotions of which few people are aware is evaluation. We have to realize that the action of a stimulus turns into emotions only after evaluating the situation.
Because of this, the conclusion is that evaluation represents a very important component due to the fact that it gives a really good chance to adjust to the situations in such a way that emotions will start healthy behavior.
So, when something bad happens it is not necessarily to respond in a negative manner. When someone loses his job he could evaluate the circumstances in two different ways: he could think that this is the end of the world, metaphorically speaking, and begin to feel sad and frustrated or he could realize that this is life and he can't change the circumstances but instead this is a new opportunity to find a new job which can be better paid. This kind of evaluation makes the negative emotions not to emerge.
It is extremely important to make a wise evaluation because emotions will conduct different types of behavior. Regarding this hypothetical case, the subject could choose to isolate himself maybe eventually fall into a depression, all this because of the negative emotions, or he could choose not to give up and try to find a new job and to realize he could begin a new chapter in his life.
It is crucial for our mental health to control our emotions. It is clearly not a good idea to allow our emotions to be the factors that would lead our actions, because these mental states are changing, they are not very stable and they often emerge from a bad evaluation. So the key to a healthy behavior is to have this issue crystal clear: we have the ability to control our emotions throughout evaluation. This doesn't mean we shouldn't let ourselves feel negative emotions, but we shouldn't let them rule our life, instead, every time we feel we are overwhelmed by them, we should reconsider or re-evaluate the whole situation.