What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Love is a very complicated word. There is an element of emotion in it but there is also an element of a decision, a choice, a commitment. I tend to think of love as a commitment to someone and therefore I try to keep emotion out of the picture. However, there is also a kind of love that comes from the same place my emotions come from. That kind of love involves passion and affection. And it is a positive emotion.
I can most easily identify and feel this kind of love when I think of my kids. I genuinely like my children. They are nice people and have many noteworthy talents. I feel a sense of pride in them for what they are becoming as people. When I think of my kids there’s a welling up within me that almost brings me to tears because I feel attached to them in many ways. They don’t always make the same decisions I would make, but I still love them for being them. I trust them to make the right decisions toward other people in the areas that really count. They are generally good people and are easy to love.
I also identify and feel a passionate and affectionate love for my husband. I did make a commitment to love him through thick and thin, but my love for him goes beyond the decision to love him. There’s that feeling of pride and trust that comes from knowing he’s a good person and loves me in return. There’s a fondness that comes out of our friendship with one another. The common interests we share and the common experiences we share provide the backdrop for the affection I feel towards him.
I have other friendships that lead me to loving those friends, too. Again, I think the shared experiences, the mutually uplifting conversations, and the shared interests lead to affection towards those other people. I feel love, besides having made the commitment to love.
I wouldn’t use love to describe how I feel about objects. For me, love, true love, is only towards other people. I might really, really like ice cream but I will not say I love ice cream. I might be fond of a certain book or movie, but I would not say I love either of those things. If I’m not able to make a decision to love something, to really commit to it, I’m unwilling to say I love it. For instance, I am not committed to a song. That would be strange to say, so I’m not going to say I love a song either.
To truly love something, to have the emotion of love, I need to be able to commit to it. But love is more than just a commitment. There is an emotional element to it that I don’t think I’ve quite pinned down yet. I will have to keep working on that.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


The most basic definition of hopefulness I found identified it as happiness. I guess hopefulness is a sort of happiness but it means something different, too, something more. It equated it to cheer. That isn’t what I think of when I think of hope or being hopeful, so I looked up the word hope and came up with some other definitions that I like better.
The best definition or synonym for what I feel the emotion of hopefulness is was optimism. Optimism was defined as the state of having positive beliefs. I can accept that as what I think hope is all about. Of course, what those positive beliefs are based on determines the amount of hope a person can have. In my case, I base my hope on a Higher Power who is looking out for me and caring for me. Ultimately, knowing a God gives me hopefulness I wouldn’t otherwise be able to summon up in this world. This world is full of disappointment and troubles. Those things would drain away any chance for real hope in my life, except there’s the ultimate hope I can have because of my Higher Power, God. (To read more on this view of hope go to my blog article from 10/17/10.)
Can I experience hopefulness apart from the hope I get from God? I am afraid to say, “Yes.” I am afraid that anything I hope for will not come to pass. In many ways it’s like the emotion of excitement. I’m afraid that even a little bit of hope will only lead to disappointment. So, hope is not an emotion I allow myself to feel very often. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on the results, I do experience hope sometimes. But, the fear of disappointment often overrides the hope and I’m left feeling fear more than hope. It’s very scary for me to allow for even a little bit of hope because the disappointment is so painful. I’d rather not look forward to a hoped-for outcome than be left without it occurring.
I realize that is a sad way to live. Maybe I should focus more on the other definitions of hope like having a longing or a dream in which to shoot. There are things I long for and possibly might potentially come to pass. And even if they don’t come to pass, the longing and dreaming are positive things in the meantime. For instance, I long to see my son this coming weekend. That may or may not happen depending on circumstances beyond my control. But the looking forward to it is a good emotion. It may only be fleeting in its duration but for a moment, I feel a sense of happiness. That moment of happiness allows me some relief from negative emotions I might be feeling. That relief is a good thing. So hopefulness can give me moments of relief and everyone needs a bit of relief now and then.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


I’ve been writing about various positive emotions but I haven’t really thought about what emotions are. I like to keep everything in my head, in thoughts and intellectual areas. Somehow I don’t equate that with emotion. Emotion, in my mind, is something else. But I looked up the definition of emotion today. The definition says it’s a “mental state.” That is counter to what I usually think about emotions and it takes some of the mystery out of them. Emotions do have something to do with my mind and the way I think. So, maybe I can bear to handle emotions if I just think of them as a state of my mind.
I think of confidence as something that comes from my mind, from my intellect. I have confidence when I feel in mental control of situations and a lack of confidence when things are outside of my control. However, both the existence of confidence and the lack of confidence are mental states. So both are emotions. I can think my way into both states because they deal with my mind. That is true of all the emotions I’ve explored so far whether it’s happiness, contentedness, or peacefulness. They are all parts of my mental state and I can think my way into experiencing them.
So confidence. It’s a belief in oneself according to the definition in the Thesaurus. Is that something I can talk or think my way into? I think it is. If I remind myself of the good things I’ve done and am able to do, I can cultivate a sense of confidence. So it’s a positive emotion, a good feeling emotion. It’s having a self-assurance that life can be worth living. It’s having a self-assurance that the things I plan have a reasonable chance of working out the way I planned (as long as I’m not trying to plan other peoples’ actions). It’s having self-assurance that I can create something good in the midst of even difficult circumstances.
The opposite of confidence is being unsure. It’s having a sense of uncertainty. I can see myself in that position a lot of the time if I’m unwilling to look at things from a historical point of view. History would show that things eventually work out. So from a historical point of view, I can be confident that things will work out in the future. I often fail to take history into account and as a result struggle with being unconfident. When things look bleak, I tend to feel that they will always be bleak. That’s the opposite of confidence. I like to think, “I have the confidence that this situation will not work out as I have planned.” That’s kind of a backwards way of being confident. I need to view it from the perspective of time and recognize that I can have confidence, a self-assuredness, that eventually things can work out.
It is still kind of funny to think of confidence as an emotion, but it is a mental state, so it is an emotion. It can be a positive or a negative emotion depending on what I’m focusing on: the problem or the solution. I think I will try to cultivate solution thinking by trusting God to work things out and by recognizing that, when I use my skills and strengths, things have worked out in the past. That’s where confidence becomes a positive emotion.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Gratitude has been something I’ve been told to cultivate in my life. I’ve been told to have an attitude of gratitude. That makes it sound like something that I can make happen in my life. I don’t think of emotions that way. So is having the emotion of thankfulness the same as having an attitude of gratitude? I’m not sure. Maybe it is something that I can think my way into feeling.
I know that when I concentrate on the things I’m thankful for, I feel more thankful. And that feeling can last for a while depending on what else is happening in my life. One definition of thankfulness is appreciation. If I’m able to appreciate the things I have, the people I know, and/or the things happening in my life I am much more likely to be thankful. So I try on a regular basis to appreciate the good things in my life.
To appreciate something I have to acknowledge it and recognize it as having value. That takes some effort. So part of feeling thankfulness is acknowledging and recognizing the good things in my life. Some of the things I acknowledge as good in my life are the members of my family: my husband, my son and my daughter. Other people are good things in my life, too, like my sister and brothers. Also, I have many friends I am able to appreciate for their unique contributions to my life and for just being themselves.
There are intangible things I appreciate in my life, too. Many of these things I take for granted until they are not there. My relative good health is one of these things. Sure, I have my chronic illnesses like diabetes, but we live in a time when there are many means for controlling it and managing it. I manage it quite well with the help of my doctors. Things could be a lot worse.
Another intangible in my life I appreciate is God’s love for me. Maybe this is the most important thing I can be thankful for in my life. Where all else may fail, God’s love is steadfast and ever-present. When I recognize God’s love for me, I truly feel thankfulness. Along these same lines I can appreciate God’s forgiveness for my sins. Even the little things in my life that I do without thinking sometimes require forgiveness. And I have that from God. For that I am truly thankful.
By appreciating, acknowledging, and recognizing all the good in my life I cannot deny the feeling of thankfulness that flows. The feeling of thankfulness comes out of thinking about the good things in my life. The feeling of thankfulness comes from having an attitude of gratitude. Thankfulness is an emotion I can choose to develop. And I can feel this positive emotion any time I choose to focus on the things for which I am grateful.