In the long run, happiness is measured in one whole lifetime. Happiness is an emotion but we do not experience it every minute and every second of it. However if we consider eudaimonia and thus happiness per se, the flourishing form of life includes different aspects of emotions as long as contemplation is involved and stable disposition is constantly maintained.
Consider Plutchik’s wheel of emotions. If Plutchik is right, our emotions are related, maintaining in s stable disposition, apart from the first pillar of golden mean of having a healthy body and mind, we also need to understand our emotions. This is because our emotions will decide our behaviour. This perspective of emotions and behaviour will in turn affect our ability to stay in a stable disposition. If we are not able to stay in a stable disposition, we will be more irrational and this will hinder our ability to make rational decisions.
Plutchik suggested 8 primary bipolar emotions: joy versus sadness; anger versus fear; trust versus disgust; and surprise versus anticipation. If one considers Plutchik’s wheel of emotions and relate it to emotional quotient of a person, we are probably able to understand why we are more irrational than we think. However understanding this wheel of emotions will probably help us to be more rational, especially when it comes to decision-making as well as understanding what virtue is and the quality of virtue of a person.
Of the 8 primary bipolar emotions, the joy, anger, trust, surprise are considered more positive than sadness, fear, disgust and anticipation, relatively speaking. Among joy, anger, trust and surprise, I would rate joy to be the most positive follow by trust, surprise and anger. In Plutchik’s terms, ecstasy is a stronger word and serenity is weaker. Among the less positive emotions, I would rate fear as the most negative follow by sadness, disgust and anticipation. If stable disposition is desired for better decision-making, thus having the knowledge and wisdom to work and lead, joy will be the eudaimonia that Aristotle hopes for in a flourishing form of life. With joy, there will be trust in a collective group and humanity. With trust and joy aplenty, there will be love. When there is love, there will be good optimism when we expect positively in times of uncertainty so that there might be a few occasional surprises (pleasant ones) and not submission due to fear (or terror).
Anger is considered as negative by many. Perhaps that’s because they take emotions too lightly and did not consider Plutchik’s wheel of emotions and how they are related. Yes anger is negative if we allow it to take control of us and become like the incredible hulk. That will be rage. Rage can be seen in many of the protests and demonstrations when there are violent clashes between the protestors and police. When there is rage, fear will be reigning among the people because there is terror. This is on the bigger context of anger and rage. On the smaller context, we are bound to have anger because we feel injustice when others treat us less equal or even connive to mislead us. To Aristotle, anger can be a beauty provided we understand why we are angry. Because beautiful actions come from beautiful characters aiming at beauty. When there is injustice, there is an imbalance of equality. If all men are created equal, and if there is social equality, there will be justice. Justice is good in and of itself. Therefore anger can be considered as a beauty when we know why we are angry and what our anger is directed at. If anger is directed at injustice, then it is more beautiful than joy. We cannot be happy about injustice but we can be happy when there is justice because anger is directing at injustice so that justice can be served. There is nothing wrong to feel sad about injustice, but because we are sad due to injustice, we let our negative emotions to get the better of us. In the longer term, the emotion of sadness does not give more to serve justice but it might turn to grief when more innocent people die or suffer from injustice. Unless one is a sadist, sadness is not joy. Unless one is a masochist, anger cannot be sexy when it is directed at them. However a masochist might not find injustice something to be angry about.
Anger is a better friend than sadness provided fear does not consume us from within and hinders us. Fear might stop us from doing something simply because we lack the knowledge. I am saying this from a man’s perspective. For a female, sadness can be a better friend than anger, depending on the reasons for sadness. With better understanding, hence knowledge, and with a rational understanding of our emotions (and how they are related), we can then be able to stay in a stable disposition to make rational decisions. When everyone on earth has the equality and love as the same ideals, anger will be a better friend than sadness when there is injustice. When everyone is able to understand that injustice cannot be tolerated by all and injustice can be kept to a minimum through enforcement of good laws. The confidence, enthusiasm, and discipline of a person or group at a particular time will be positive – the morale of the people in the city will be good.
With good morale (due to good ethics and moral), eudaimonia can be achieved and a flourishing form of life can continue to blossom.
- Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (ritholtz.com)
- FEATURE: Master your anger – or at least try to understand it (sciencealert.com.au)