Our emotional life comprises feelings such as anger, fear, sadness, happiness, surprise, and disgust. The thing to remember is that emotions are tools for us to use. Each emotion has benefits or detriments depending on the way we use them.

Emotions are part of us. Each of our personalities reflects our emotions differently. It’s not the emotion that we are here to question; it’s the level of intensity and longevity of experiencing any one emotion that concerns us, as well as the associated physical, mental and behavioral consequences. We will address these consequences further into this course, but for now let’s start by defining anger, fear, happiness, and sadness. We’ll also examine the causes, levels, positive and negative responses, and advantages and disadvantages of each of these emotions.


Anger is an emotion related to a perception of being offended, denied, or wronged, with a desire to correct the perceived offense. Anger is a primal emotion. Anger used correctly can be beneficial. Incorrectly used anger can be destructive. We will investigate what makes us feel offended and why.

Causes of Anger

  • Being offended or wronged 

  • Pain

  • Losing control

  • Rejection or lack of appreciation

  • Humiliation, embarrassment

  • Feeling worthless

  • Hopelessness


Levels of Anger

  1. Bothered

  2. Irritated

  3. Frustrated

  4. Angry

  5. Infuriated

  6. Aggressive

  7. Explosive


Positive Responses to Anger

  • Pause

  • Respond calmly to wrong or injustice

  • Walk away

  • Take a break, gather thoughts

  • Use anger to defend our values


Negative Responses to Anger

  • Quarreling

  • Brooding

  • Insulting

  • Aggression

  • Passive anger

  • Violence


Anger Benefits

  • Increases motivation

  • Promotes survival

  • Can be a sign of confidence and intelligence

  • Motivates us to solve problems and reach goals

  • Makes us aware of injustice

  • Defends us and our values


Anger Disadvantages

  • False optimism, a heightened sense of power and energy

  • Decreased ability to trust

  • Slowness to attribute good qualities to others

  • Blames others

  • Anticipates anger in future situations

  • Manipulates presenting a sense of dominance and power to others

  • Makes risky decisions

  • Determines a person’s limits in negotiation


We can express negative responses to anger in passive or aggressive forms, as follows:


Passive Anger

  • Dispassion involves showing extremely little emotion to the point of rudeness or cruelty. Individuals expressing dispassion may appear to be frigid or robotic in their interactions. They may hide their emotions through overeating, oversleeping, or focusing their attention on inanimate objects or other pursuits.

  • Evasiveness Avoiding conflict by leaving or avoiding argumentation or confrontation.

  • Ineffectualness involves expressing anger or frustration at relatively unimportant things rather than what is bothersome. Ineffectual people may be especially accident-prone or underachievers.

  • Obsessive behavior in any form (perfectionism, ritual actions, overeating or over-dieting).

  • Psychological manipulation can manifest in many ways, including provoking others, feigning distress or sickness, using aggression or sex to gain things from others, or withholding resources or affection.

  • Secretive behavior, such as avoiding others or whispering behind others’ backs, can also extend to stealing from or conning others.

  • Self-blame can also be a form of passive anger, and can comprise over-apologizing or inviting criticism from other people.

  • Self-sacrifice is typical martyring behavior such as being overly helpful or refusing help after over-committing oneself.


Aggressive Anger

  • Bullying, such as preying on others’ weaknesses or using physical or emotional power to coerce another.

  • Destructiveness, ranging from destroying objects to harming people to self-destructive acts like reckless driving or substance abuse.

  • Grandiosity includes habits such as showing off, demanding attention from others at all times and being a sore loser.

  • Hurtfulness, like destructiveness, can include threats of harm and harming other people through words or deeds.

  • Manic behavior may be recognized by reckless or hyperactive actions.

  • Selfishness, naturally, manifests as ignoring the needs of others to a harmful degree.

  • Unjust blaming of others for one’s own mistakes.

  • Unpredictability includes lashing out in sudden rages or handing out unfair punishments depending on the person’s current state of mind.

  • Vengeance is any form of taking revenge on others for real or perceived slights.

  • Suppression of anger may also be harmful and lead to other aggressive outlets for one’s pent-up rage.

  • Have you participated in other courses, programs, or seminars for emotional improvement?

  • What makes you angry?

  • What people make you angry?

  • What situations make you angry?

  • How do you respond when you are angry?

  • Do you get frustrated or angry quickly?

  • Are you oversensitive and react too quickly to perceived insults?

  • Do you recognize any of the passive or aggressive anger in yourself?

  • Do you use anger to get your way?

  • How does anger affect your work?

  • How does your anger affect your relationships?

  • Do you need help with your anger?


Fear is an emotion induced by a perceived threat in response to a specific stimulus. Fear gives us the ability to recognize danger and flee from or confront the situation, also known as the fight-flight–fear response.

There are five basic fears:

  • Fear of death/extinction.

  • Fear of losing a body part/mutilation.

  • Fear of restriction or losing control or autonomy.

  • Fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of connectedness; feeling not wanted, respected, or valued by other people.

  • Fear of humiliation or shame, or any self-disapproval that threatens the loss of personal integrity and worthiness.


Levels of Fear

  1. Caution

  2. Nervousness

  3. Worry

  4. Anxiety

  5. Dread

  6. Panic


Benefits of Fear

  • It gives heightened awareness of the environment

  • In a dangerous situation, initiates our fight-flight-freeze response

  • Provides a heightened awareness of self and increased self-reflection

  • Increased focus

  • Cautions our decisions

  • It gives an awareness of stepping out of our comfort zone


Disadvantages of Fear

  • Stifles our decision making

  • Can create anxiety

  • Can lead to panic

  • Can lead to anger

  • Can lead to depression

  • Can lead to some personality disorders

  • What makes you anxious?

  • What people make you anxious?

  • What situations make you anxious?

  • How do you respond when you are afraid?

  • Do you get frustrated or afraid easily?

  • Are you anxious most of the time?

  • Are you oversensitive and react too quickly to perceived threats?

  • Do you need help with your fear or anxiety?


When threatened, fear is a necessary response. A certain amount of fear creates caution. Fear can become emotionally pervasive and out of balance. Fear can lead to over worry, anxiety, sadness, depression, and panic. Fear can also lead to anger. It’s not necessarily inappropriate to experience worry, anxiety, and even panic once in a while. It’s when these feelings become chronic that our brain and our perceptions change. When this occurs, we can get caught in a loop of redundant fight or flight and overuse of our stress response system (HPA axis), leading to distorted and irrational thinking and negative perceptions and reactions in response to the world.

Fear can rule us, controlling us to the point that we become stuck in fear, unable to move forward. Don’t let fear rule your life. It takes time to reduce fear and anxiety. Keep reading and learning. The last sections of this book will provide various methods and forms for you to help improve your emotional life.



Sadness is a sense of loss caused by difficulty, disappointment, grief, or feeling helpless.


Causes of Sadness

  • Loss of a loved one, job, or relationship

  • Failure

  • Confusion

  • Low self-esteem

  • Low confidence

  • Disappointment


Benefits of Sadness

  • Enhances empathy

  • Triggers self-reflection.

  • A good cry discharges toxins, relieves tension, and lowers stress.

  • Induces greater patience.

  • Awakens gratitude by reminding us of the fragility of life.


Disadvantages of Sadness

  • Sorrow/Despair

  • Anxiety

  • Depression




  • What makes you sad?

  • What people make you sad?

  • What situations make you sad?

  • How do you respond when you get sad?

  • How often are you sad or depressed?

  • Are you oversensitive and become sad too easily?

  • Do you need help with your sadness or depression?



Happiness is a somewhat difficult emotion to define. There is no given objective standard for happiness; it depends on an individual’s perspective. If a person thinks they are happy, then they are. We can say that happiness is a state whereby an individual feels relaxed and has a sense of distance from their problems. Aristotle conceptualized happiness as being composed of pleasure and a sense that life is well-lived. Happiness can be a sense of general positive thoughts and feelings. Happiness does not necessarily come from major life events like weddings or winning something and may come from consistent small to moderate moments of joy and contentment.

There is a significant association between personal values and personal happiness. Happiness is subjective, dependent on what we value as an individual. Aspects of our personality like genetics, early childhood experiences, stress, and confidence affect our view of happiness. If we are naturally confident and have good self-esteem, we have an increased ability to be happy.


People who emphasize intrinsic values such as social relationships, family, friends, community, or spirituality are often self-reported to be happy. People who prioritize extrinsic achievements such as money, power, social status, and the physical self have a decreased sense of personal happiness. Another way to look at happiness is whether we are self-centered or socially-centered. Self-centered being based on extrinsic values, and socially-centered based on intrinsic values.

People who consider extrinsic achievements the essential thing in life are less likely unsatisfied with their current accomplishments and less likely to invest in social relationships such as family and friends, and are consequently less happy. Extrinsic values facilitate more social comparison and decrease interpersonal relationships.

In short, people who prioritize extrinsic rewards over intrinsic rewards are less likely to be happy. People can claim to be happy independent of wealth or misfortune. This doesn’t mean we need to be poor to be happy, but it also doesn’t mean that being rich or having social status guarantees happiness. Happiness is a subjective concept that each of us develops according to our genetics, experiences, beliefs, and values.

Requirements for Happiness

We all have parts of our personality that can impede our happiness. Happiness requires a path that allows the development of specific underlying skills such as self-esteem, confidence, the ability to relate to others, and mental skills like impulse control, emotional control, and our ability to correct ourselves through self-regulation. These underlying skills contribute to strong coping skills that buffer us against emotional stress. The level to which we build these underlying skills correlates to our ability to buffer against the hard times and enhances the quality of life when times are good.

Happiness is a state of being that reflects:

  • Lower stress levels

  • An understanding that happiness requires long-term effort and personal development in early childhood

  • Development of intrapersonal and interpersonal/relationship skills

  • Having supportive relationships

  • Personal perspective based on intrinsic values (more than extrinsic values)

  • A lack of trauma or excessive stress in early childhood

  • A lack of trauma or excessive stress later in life that diminishes our executive functions

  • Having a purpose to fulfill

  • A positive self-image acquired early in life through the development of self-esteem and confidence.

  • Goals that reflect personal skills


Happiness is more a way of perceiving ourselves and the world. We can improve our perspective, growing into and maintaining our happiness through knowledge and practice. Be patient, and remember that change and improvement requires significant time.

Happiness Perspective

Happiness comes from our ability to feel confident, optimistic, and capable; from perceiving that others love us and that we deserve these affections; and from our ability to cope with stress. Our ability to be happy thus comes from predisposing factors in our childhood that potentiate our development of the underlying supportive skills that will allow happiness. If we perceive our environment as safe in childhood, with parents that are positive and responsive, then we develop good coping and relationship skills. We develop our executive functions such as short-term memory, impulse control, rational thinking, and self-regulation. If, during our childhood, we perceive that we are not in a safe environment due to non-responsive parents, we will not develop these skills and may have difficulty late in our life.

If two people have the same negative experience, why might they feel mental and emotional pain at different levels? It’s those predisposed perspectives we gain in early childhood or from our current levels of stress that determine our ability to cope with emotional, mental, and physical pain.

So if we perceive that we are not happy, then maybe our perspective is at fault. Imagine that—changing our feelings and thoughts can alter our perspective, making us more confident and happy. This is true, but effecting this kind of change is difficult. The process requires learning how our emotions and brain work and how we perceive the world and ourselves. Then with progressive steps, we can move into an awareness of our emotions and thoughts and improve them.

Our ability to be happy has to do with the current levels of stress in our life. Remember, happiness doesn’t mean we feel happy all the time; all emotions have their appropriate place and time. We need to focus our happiness on more than constant or redundant short-term pleasure such as the visual and carnal aspects of our success; instead, we must define our happiness by a long-term seeking of values, manifesting personal accomplishment that satisfies our self-image and creates confidence. We must define happiness through long-term accomplishment, not short-lived pleasures. For this to occur, we need to have a perspective that sees through a lens of reduced stress and optimism for future positive accomplishments.


What makes you happy?

  • What people make you happy?

  • What recent experiences made you happy?

  • What are your intrinsic values?

  • Do you have long-term positive relationships?

  • Do you have a sense of purpose?

  • Do you set goals?

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