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mowens's avatar

How can you explain human emotions?

Asked by mowens (8285 points ) March 12th, 2010

I was watching something on TV, and it was about someone dying. It made me think back to when my grandfather died years ago. When my grandpa died, I was inconsolable. I was probably around 10, but I was really close to him. He was also the first person I was ever really close to that died. Anyway, I was very upset about it for the longest time.

Why do I bring this up? Growing up, whenever I stayed at my grandparents’ house, the room I stayed in had this painting of a train. I always liked it. I used to just sit and stare at it as I fell asleep. So, fast forward to 6 months after he died. I found out that when I was around 3 or so, we were at a garage sale… and that painting was there. I refused to leave until my mom bought the painting for my grandpa. He was a conductor on the railroad, so thats where the train thing comes in. Anyway, after I found that out… I instantly felt ok about him dying. Simply knowing that fact… made everything ok.

This has always been confusing to me. Why did this make me feel better?

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16 Answers

noyesa's avatar

Often times when we lose individuals close to us, it’s the things we didn’t say that we regret the most. Perhaps you found resolution in this because it’s representative of the bond you shared. The link was two-way.

Ivy's avatar

Emotions change with time, experience and understanding.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I’m going to hate myself for saying this, but… I’m going to say it anyway. Can’t… stop… myself…

You trained yourself to feel the way that you did.

mowens's avatar

haha love the pun.

kevbo's avatar

From Episode Two of “This Emotional Life” on PBS, emotion originates from the dissonance between your amygdala (primitive fight or flight brain region) and your prefrontal cortex (abstract and rational thinking region). These two regions don’t have a direct connection to each other.

Regarding your grandpa and the painting, children go through a phase where they project feelings of security onto inanimate objects (such as a blanket). It may have something to do with that.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

I agree with @CyanoticWasp
and I will look for “This Emotional Life” to watch…..thanks @kevbo

silverfly's avatar

@CyanoticWasp I like it! Inner world reflects the outer. What you think is reality.

chamelopotamus's avatar

I think essentially people are looking to find what they love and be recognized for it. If someone who you expect recognition from, denies your experience, then you take great offense to it.

Also, nothing can be accomplished alone. We seek a community to accomplish what we love (ex: music groups, they’re all different, and specialized). We will rebel against any community we are a part of that we don’t want to be.

liminal's avatar

Sometimes I wonder if we come up with too many labels for them. Just how varied and copious is the dissonance between one’s amygdala and prefrontal cortex?

chamelopotamus's avatar

I definitely agree with @CyanoticWasp. It’s like what my wheelthrowing teacher says about making pottery: “The clay did what you told it to do!”. Life is that clay…

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Tangled ball of wool!

chamelopotamus's avatar

However, you asked this in relation to your grandfather, which has not been addressed yet. So, on topic answer lol I think it’s possible that you felt consoled by your grandfather, as if the train picture would be what he would give to you as a keepsake to remember him by. And if you’re not the type to reject this kind of idea flatout, because of how rarely we actually personally encounter and therefore understand it: he did so deliberately and consciously. You were sad he was gone, and he was letting you know, in a way you would understand, that he was still around, and you’ll see him again.

These are the complexities of human emotions. You are welcome to apply the scientific method to something you consider to be “unscientific”, and if you are a true scientist, you will consider this as a possibility, and come up with a test to test that possibility.

In other words: knowledge you consider to be true, can not be considered true, if it is based off of rejecting new possibilities in order to preserve previously conceived prejudices. Rejecting something you know nothing about, is the opposite of a quest for knowledge!!! lol

The exact opposite….

judochop's avatar

Emotions are like eating a burrito in a white suit under a beautiful tree between rains. You take one bite and it is so tasty. You take another bite and hear thunder in the distance. Another and there is a quick flash of lightning. Yet another bite and the bottom of the burrito falls all over your white suit. You get up to wipe it off and step in mud. You take another step and drop your food in the mud and then it starts to rain. Just by the time you make it to shelter there is someone you’ve never met standing there with a fresh pair of clothes and new burrito for you. And then the sun comes out again.

davidbetterman's avatar

Emotions are feelings you experience spontaneously, without interference from your conscious thought processes. They just happen when you are exposed to outside stimuli (and often you experience emotions from just thinking about something/someone).

Coloma's avatar

Yes, emotions just happen, but once we are conscious we then have the ability to recognize that we are not the emotion, only the experiencer. :-)

Pandora's avatar

I think it was because you understood that although he was gone physically, that all the good feelings associated with him would never disappear. The painting would always be around to remind you of the good feelings you had with him.
I kept a hankerchief my dad had. It always reminded me of the times he would let me fold them neatly and put them in the drawer. I loved the detail stitching in them. He use to joke and say when he was gone I could have them. Whenever I see the hankerchief I just remember how amused he was by how much I loved them.

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