On the one hand, one craves joy and happiness while on the other hand, nobody wants Anger, despair, or sadness. Sometimes certain feelings are just trending. But why do we have feelings?
If you wonder why do we cry when we are sad, another question is bound to pop into your mind, Why do we have feelings at all?
There are many historically different answers to this question why do we have feelings. An explanation for our emotional world which is favored by neuroscientists and psychologists these days is feelings help to make decisions. It is not enough to understand a connection. We absolutely need feelings in order to find a direction and to obtain information that we have to evaluate. It is precisely for this evaluation that emotions are responsible.
To recognize how we or our counterpart are doing in certain situations is important in order to find out how we can best proceed, how we act, which path we choose. One likes to speak of emotional intelligence in this context. It not only helps us with decisions but also when we need to orientate ourselves in society. It advises on how we should behave and with whom we should or shouldn’t deal.
This leads to the second function of feelings. Feelings can also protect us if we learn to interpret them correctly. They warn of danger which is also a form of orientation.
Innate Or Learned?
The feeling most clearly warning of danger is certainly fear. But, as we know, everyone should have had this experience and not all people fear the same things. If one follows the arguments of emotion historians, this is not surprising. Because what we are afraid of is not genetically determined, but learned. There is an innate ability to feel. But the feelings themselves are not innate, they are always learned. Specifically, this means that even the fear of wild animals, such as a snake, has not been instinctual in us since the dawn of humanity.
People consider fear to be genetic. It is not necessary to be afraid of the snake because the snake itself is not the trigger for the fear. Rather, it is the information that has been given, when you came across a snake that triggers fear. So, you learned to be afraid of the snake.
Emotions Are Subject To Fashion – Why do we have emotions?
The fact that one can learn feelings leads to a momentous conclusion that one can also unlearn feelings again and again. The development of feelings is linked to many factors. Feelings can be influenced. If framework conditions and assessments change, feelings also change. You may know this from your personal everyday life, but such changes can also be observed in entire societies. If you look over the centuries, you will see that certain feelings were almost in sync with fashion at certain times.
How quickly such a change takes place depends on social, political, societal, and other conditions. The main question is what is meant by a specific feeling. The answer to this can remain static for years or even decades. In principle, however, a change is always possible, even in the case of grief, which one might think is so fundamental that there is no scope for what has been learned.
The ability to be sad is there and it is a part of human nature. But what makes us sad, how we experience our grief, whether we express it, with what facial expressions, perhaps also with what clothes, how mourning clothing influences our emotional life, everything is extremely changeable. All these aspects are historically and culturally changeable and just learned in a particular way.
Fear Was Once Crippling, Now Its Intelligence
In the past few decades, according to the observation of emotion historians and sociologists, it is fear that has been subject to change. But what is fear? How do you experience it? How do you express it? How do you rate them? The answers to these questions have changed over the past 40 years. You can tell that there has been an appreciation of fear since the 1970s. It is now believed that it alerts you to dangers and that it helps you plan your future. Fear is no longer seen as paralyzing, not even as cowardly, but rather it is the feeling of the intelligent and cautious.
Also Read: 23 Emotions People Feel But Can’t Explain
From a social point of view, it is terrorism that arouses diffuse fears in us, as well as physical harm. Influenza, bird flu, epidemics, but also chronic and insidious diseases such as cancer are the fear triggers among people in the early 21st century. We live in the age of fear. In other words, fear is trending right now. It may change at some point but then another feeling will enter the big stage. Who knows, maybe it’s luck.