Yesterday my 12 year old son Christian approached me with a theory about emotions. His theory is that emotions are energy, and sometimes this energy is translated into physical form. For example, when you are angry and hit someone that is a translation of emotional energy into a physical form. He also said that whether the emotion/energy is “good” or “bad” depends or can be changed by your perspective. Stunned, I asked him where this theory came from. He said he it came from thinking about Star Wars and The Force.
When you think about it, we are constantly translating our emotions into physical form. For example, how do you get out of bed in the morning? Do you wake up without an alarm, happy to “seize the day” or do you hit snooze three times and grumpily get out of bed? That feeling ripples into how you greet your family in the morning, how you interact with your co-workers/friends, and the effort you put into your job/studies. It also influences the type of people you hang out with. Do you spend time with people that make you laugh and feel good, or people that gossip and complain?
Emotion can set the tone for the day, as well as influence events that occur throughout the day. Our perspective is the lens through which we each experience the “realities” of the day. For example, let’s say there’s a snowstorm, which brings an unexpected “snow day” and the kids have the day off. You’ve got an important presentation at work and your babysitter is snowed in too. Your kids are elated, but you’re stressed and upset all as a consequence of the same event. While this may sound obvious, many of us don’t take the time to think about how our perspective influences our emotions, which in turn creates our physical responses. Why does this matter? Well, awareness of this idea of perspective gives us pause, and the opportunity to change our emotions or at least lessen their impact.
Back to the snow day, you call work and tell them you have to postpone the presentation, accepting that your boss might be furious. You let go of the anxiety, accepting “what is”. Rather than calling work with the emotions of fear and anxiety you pause, let go, and call in with trust that it will all work out. You call work and surprisingly your boss answers - you explain the situation and it turns out that he’s one of the few that made it in. The presentation is postponed until next week. However, let’s say you call with fear, anxiety, and defensiveness, causing you to make up a not so plausible story about being suddenly sick and, by the way, the dog vomited on your computer killed your hard drive – the presentation will need to be redone. Your boss says no problem, but he’s wondering about your honesty. This creates a seed of doubt, which influences your relationship from that point onward.
We all have, by the nature of our existence, a perspective about the events of our lives. The great thing is that we have the power to change our perspective and our response. The Force is with you (for better or worse) – will you be Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker?