– How I found freedom in an unfree world p.22
An emotion is an involuntary response to something that happens. It isn’t intentional; you can’t command yourself to feel something. But when it happens, your body reacts — a warm prickling at the back of your neck, or a twist in your stomach, or a tightening of your chest. And there’s usually an urge to express yourself outwardly — through laughter, tears, talk, hitting or hugging someone.
These are emotions or feelings (I’ll use the two words interchangeably) — involuntary reactions to something that happens. The two basic emotions are happiness and unhappiness — the feelings of mental well-being and mental discomfort.
Other emotions are variations of those two. Positive emotions include love, affection, self-satisfaction, pride, anticipation of pleasure, any form of the glow we call happiness. Negative emotions include fear, hate, disappointment, sorrow, jealousy, guilt, any kind of mental discomfort.
Happiness is the object of your actions, the consequence you seek when you act. But it’s important to remember that happiness is an emotion. You can’t turn it on at will. You feel it as an involuntary response to the conditions in your life at a given moment.
Your emotional nature (like almost everything about you) is unique. What makes someone else happy might be interesting, curious, even fascinating to know; but it doesn’t tell you what would make you happy.
You can’t find happiness by telling yourself to “be happy.” Nor can you find it by doing the things that others have said make them happy. Nor can you find it by telling yourself that a “good” man or a “moral” woman or a “rational” person would be happy doing a certain list of things.
To find happiness, you must know how your unique emotional nature responds to things. You must observe and take seriously your own emotional reactions. For if you attempt to fit your emotions to a preconceived standard, you lose touch with yourself and blind yourself to the most important part of yourself — to what would make you happy.”