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Emotions As Motives

Emotion is always dynamic, and our feelings constitute our strongest
motives to action and achievement.

HOW OUR EMOTIONS COMPEL US.--Love has often done in the reformation of a
fallen life what strength of will was not able to accomplish; it has
caused dynasties to fall, and has changed the map of nations. Hatred is
a motive hardly less strong. Fear will make savage beasts out of men who
fall under its sway, causing them to trample helpless women and children
under feet, whom in their saner moments they would protect with their
lives. Anger puts out all the light of reason, and prompts peaceful and
well-meaning men to commit murderous acts.

Thus feeling, from the faintest and simplest feeling of interest, the
various ranges of pleasures and pain, the sentiments which underlie all
our lives, and so on to the mighty emotions which grip our lives with an
overpowering strength, constitutes a large part of the motive power
which is constantly urging us on to do and dare. Hence it is important
from this standpoint, also, that we should have the right type of
feelings and emotions well developed, and the undesirable ones

EMOTIONAL HABITS.--Emotion and feeling are partly matters of habit. That
is, we can form emotional as well as other habits, and they are as hard
to break. Anger allowed to run uncontrolled leads into habits of angry
outbursts, while the one who habitually controls his temper finds it
submitting to the habit of remaining within bounds. One may cultivate
the habit of showing his fear on all occasions, or of discouraging its
expression. He may form the habit of jealousy or of confidence. It is
possible even to form the habit of falling in love, or of so
suppressing the tender emotions that love finds little opportunity for

And here, as elsewhere, habits are formed through performing the acts
upon which the habit rests. If there are emotional habits we are
desirous of forming, what we have to do is to indulge the emotional
expression of the type we desire, and the habit will follow. If we wish
to form the habit of living in a chronic state of the blues, then all we
have to do is to be blue and act blue sufficiently, and this form of
emotional expression will become a part of us. If we desire to form the
habit of living in a happy, cheerful state, we can accomplish this by
encouraging the corresponding expression.

Next: Problems In Observation And Introspection

Previous: Cultivation Of The Emotions

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