When it comes to emotions it is easy to jump into conclusions as to how important are these in the every day life. We have on one side those who rely completely on emotions even when making big decisions in life. From deciding what to eat, what movie to watch, what clothes to wear, to the extent of deciding who to marry, or what career to pursue. But before we are too quick to judge those who live in an emotional rollercoaster, we can’t miss out those that rely completely and absolutely on knowledge and nothing else. It is as if they were made of steel; no emotions at all. In other words, everything becomes technical with no room for feelings or emotions. Everything is based on knowledge, the problem with this approach is a lack sensibility to the world around, a coldness which many times can lead to hurting others, or even themselves.
So what is the limit as to the extent of relying on emotions? Let’s first understand what we mean by emotions. There are positive emotions, which include wonder, elation, tenderness, joy, and surprise, while negative emotions are fear, disgust, anger, sadness, anxiety, and depression (Meier, pg. 73). According to Meier, Americans rely on emotions more so than people in other cultures. We can see the results of overreacting on feelings in broken homes, and families as well as the lack of commitment to institutions including the church. We must understand that feelings are not only a reaction to something. Many times they are the cause of an action, in other words, we act upon feelings and we also react with our feelings. To rely solely on feelings is certainly not the biblical way to approach life. In fact, the Bible emphasizes knowledge over feeling (Sovine 1988). And as Meier mentions, the Greek word for “feeling” occurs only twice in the New Testament, while “knowledge” is found 491 times. This doesn’t mean that emotions are neglected in the Bible, in fact, many emotions are emphasized in Scripture which may be an indication that there is a middle ground between emotions and knowledge. Without going to deep into all the specifics about emotion theories, and concepts, we can see that emotions play a very important role in our lives, we can’t neglect or deny them completely in fact it is impossible to do that even for those that rely only on knowledge, and we must not overemphasize their importance because as we know, they can lead to trouble.
Emotions, no matter how much importance we think we give them, are responsible for a lot of the things we do, the way we act, and how we face life. When it comes to happiness for example, it is hard to determine if happiness leads to success, or if success leads to happiness. We will all experience some kind of trouble in life. Dealing with happiness and success, a study shows “happy people are capable of experiencing sadness and negative emotions in response to negative events, which is a healthy and appropriate response”. (Lyubomirsky). According to this same study, happiness does lead to behaviors that often produce further success in work, relationships and health, and these successes result in part from a person's positive affect. But even though this study shows that happiness has a great influence in leading to success it is not the only factor necessary to do so. In many cases, intelligence, family, expertise and physical fitness, can also play a role in people's successes.
There are those who claim that by changing our thinking we can tweak our feelings. For example, in his new book "The Emotional Life of Your Brain," Davidson lays out his explanation for why meditation and other "neurally inspired behavioral interventions" can help people tweak their own emotions in search of happier, more productive lives. Can this be possible? I can’t help it but be reminded of Romans 12:2a “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. I find interesting that in the mid-1970s, there was hardly any research on emotion — it was hardly considered a field when in the Bible is evident that emotions are important. Trying to make this paper completely focused in psychology without any Christianity is almost impossible for me, because I see that most answers are found in Scripture. However, even research confirms the necessity of meditation, which in our case is one made in God’s Word and promises.
Happiness can be found by changing our mentality and thriving to succeed, but what about the bad times? Why do some people suffer physical and mental breakdowns when faced with overwhelming stress while others seem to thrive? Some suggest that emotions are not solely dependent on our thinking; in other words, emotion might not just be relegated to the brain's basement? This simply means that even when making bigger decisions in life, we most likely will consult our emotions even after approaching the situation with calculus knowledge.
Emotions are important regardless of how we approach life, too much relying on them we can overreact, and on the other side we can pretend we base everything on knowledge and calculus when in reality we are suppressing God given emotions to the extent of becoming cold. The best way to handle emotions, especially for those claiming to follow Christ, is by renewing our minds though God’s Word. We may still struggle with some difficulties, and hard times, but that’s when faith comes in, and faith should not be based on emotion but on the knowledge that God is God no matter how we feel.