Emotions And Feelings (Cont.8)

5. Things aren't what they seem (can cause amusement, bittersweetness, nostalgia, cognitive dissonance, paradox, irony, sarcasm)

    a) amusement is linked with feeling  interested, humour, elements of unexpectedness, incongruity, playfulness, etc; causes a brief spike in the person's level of cheerfulness

"...Amusement is different from happiness in that happiness is a general sense of pleasure, whereas amusement appeals specifically to one's sense of humour..."
Brené Brown, 2021

Amusement is different from other positive emotions, like contentment, gratitude, interest, joy, love, pride, etc

"...1. An awareness of incongruity (there is something unexpected about what causes us to be amused - we weren't expecting the punchline or that behaviour or that timing);
     2. When we feel amusement, we feel playful with those around us..."

Brené Brown, 2021

It has been found that amusement breaks can help replenish depleted cognitive resources.

NB Need to be careful as what can be amusing or funny for one person will not necessarily be amusing or funny for somebody else.

     b) bittersweetness is a mixed feeling of happiness and sadness; it's different from ambivalence as it is a conflicted feeling (sad or happy) at the same time; it could be an unconscious interpretation of a more integrated emotional experience, ie requires an ability to interpret your emotional state; it is a skill that develops gradually, ie young children do not experience it.

"...The bittersweet side of appreciating life's most precious moments is the unbearable awareness that these moments are passing......sadness about letting go of something, mixed with happiness and/or gratitude about what's been experienced and/or what's next..."
Brené Brown, 2021

     c) nostalgia is a yearning for the ways things used to be in your often idealised and self-protective version of the past; celebrating the good things of your past, eg memories; unfortunately your memories are not reliable; symptoms can include loss of appetite, fainting, heightening suicide risk, hallucinations about the people and places you miss; involves putting yourselves at the centre of a story in which you are reminiscing about people and/or places and/or events, etc in the past; it is more likely to be triggered by negative moods, like loneliness, and by your struggles to find meaningin your current lives; it can serve you psychologically by increasing positive feelings and to help you navigate through life's 'ups and downs'; romanticising your past can have a positive impact; it is a tool for both connection and disconnection; depending on how it is used, it can be good, helpful, bad, dangerous, detrimental, etc.

"...nostalgia can be a part of both healthy and unhealthy coping strategies, depending on an individual's personality and coping style......for individuals who are prone to depression or rumination (involuntary focus on negative and pessimistic thoughts), nostalgia tends to be associated with negative emotional outcomes......differentiates rumination from reflection, which is highly adaptive and psychologically healthy......Rumination is also different from worry.....Worry is focused on the future while rumination focuses on the past. It is about ourselves that we are stuck on......Rumination is a strong predictor of depression, makes us more likely to pay attention to negative things, and zaps our motivation to do things that would improve how we feel. This combination of rumination and nostalgia......is destructive and disconnecting..."
Brené Brown, 2021

It can seduce people into believing that a make-believe past could exist again and give them someone/something to blame for being unable to restore the mythical past utopia; need the appropriate reality check to handle the trade-offs and contradictions found in your memories.

It provides an imaginary refuge that can be used to maintain and/or strengthen the status quo, like protecting power structures.

"..nostalgia as a frequent, primarily positive, context-specific bittersweet emotion that combines the elements of happiness and sadness with a sense of yearning and loss..."
Brené Brown, 2021

NB An example of the impact of nostalgia
"...What's spoken: I wish things were the way they used to be in the good ol' days.
    What's not spoken: when there was no accountability for the way my behaviour affecting other people.
What's not spoken: when we ignore other people's pain because it cause us discomfort.
What's not spoken: when my authority was absolute and never challenged..."

Brené Brown, 2021

   d) cognitive dissonance is a state of tension that occurs when a person holds thoughts (ideas, attitudes, beliefs, opinions, etc) that are psychologically inconsistent with each other; human beings engage in all kinds of cognitive gymnastics aimed at justifying your own behaviour; it can produce mental discomfort that ranges from minor pains to deep anguish; it flirts with absurdity; you strive to make sense out of contradictory ideas and to lead lives that you perceive to be consistent and meaningful; when faced with information that challenges your beliefs, etc your initial reaction is to make it disappear by rejecting the new information and/or decreasing its importance and/or avoiding it; to handle this you need to stay curious and be courageous; it can go beyond the ability to 'think and learn' to 'rethink and unlearn'.

    e) paradox refers to the appearance of contradiction between 2 related components; the opposing elements of a paradox are intrinsically linked, despite appearing contradictory, such aas creativity and discipline, centralised and decentralised, hierarchical and grass roots, structure and anarchy, sadness and happiness, etc; it challenges us to straddle the attention of 2 conflicting elements and recognise that they can both be true; paradoxes help us to discover the underlying truth about yourself and the world

"...Embracing the paradox teaches us how to think deeply and with more complexity. It invites us to reality-check the validity of the statements......It moves us away from oversimplifying our systems, organisations, and how humans work..."
Brené Brown, 2021

It is not an emotion, as it is the basis for an emotion, ie starts thinking to solve the puzzle; more than rationality and logic is required to gain a deeper understanding; can foster creativity, innovation and productivity.

An example of a paradox is the love for sad movie, ie people like to be moved and feel connected to what it means to be human plus to one another; sadness moves the individual 'us' to the collective 'us'; in this case sadness leads to enjoyment.

    f) irony involves the forms of communication in which the literal meaning of the words is different, often opposite, to the intended message; criticism and humour are involved; requires the receiver to be able to understand the other's mental states, thoughts and feelings and this can lead to misinterpretation of the meaning

   g) sarcasm is a particular type of irony in which the underlying message is normally meant to ridicule, tease, or criticise; sometimes sarcasm is used to 'soften the blow' or to be more hurtful than direct criticism;

"...understanding the subtleties of irony and sarcasm is a development process that involves coordination of multiple brain areas..."
Brené Brown, 2021

This development starts in early teens and continues on into early adulthood.


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