InCHIP Lecture: The importance of emotional well-being 

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Dacher Keltner is a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Keltner presented through the UConn InCHIP Lecture Series on September 29th. Photo courtesey of: psychology.berkeley.edu

Emotions have a lot more control over our lives than we may have thought. Our own emotions can trick us into believing that we are trapped by them; they have a power over the quality of our lives that we believe is out of our control. Once we recognize that control, we can improve the way we lead our lives through small but impactful changes. Our emotions know us better than we know ourselves.  

Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, gave a lecture yesterday on emotional well-being which consisted of thought-provoking ideas, impressive study findings and psychological lessons. Keltner invited viewers and listeners to reflect on how often they think of using their emotions to better their lives.  

Keltner opened up his lecture with an intimidating notion: while the COVID-19 pandemic caused much tangible and financial damage, it also left much emotional and psychological damage across the world. He warns that COVID-19 will leave behind five to 10 years of an “emotional recession.” Thankfully, Keltner provided his audience with insight into what an emotional recession was and how we may be able to spare ourselves and others from it.  

Keltner opened his presentation with a lesson on what emotions are thought to be versus what they actually are. He explained how emotions take a greater toll on our external experiences than they do on our internal ones. The way we allow our emotions to steer our social experiences also permits them to determine the level of gratitude and satisfaction we gain from our lives.  

Keltner also presented some difficult concepts, making the audience think about the role of emotions in the world. He makes a point that people should try to center their emotions around positivity in order to get a positive result. He introduces the idea of negative emotions causing the same outcome. For example, anger can fuel beneficial societal changes and social movements. While the result is good, is it at the cost of the quality of life of the individual? And in such a case, is it worth it? How can we come to terms with that emotion within the moment so that our satisfaction is not jeopardized?  

Keltner illustrated five points on how to understand and deal with emotions. Crediting some of the ideas to former student Alan Cowen, these points explain that the impact of certain emotions may have a greater effect on specific individuals — due to personal factors such as genetics and culture. They also validate the normality and acceptability of experiencing different emotions within the same one experience. One of the final and more provocative points that these concepts make is the importance of knowing others’ emotions and also making our own emotions known. This final point presents itself as one of the most vital in order to establish better relationships with those around us. Keltner’s genuine interest and passion for this topic made listening to his lecture enjoyable and interesting. His words show that he has a true concern for the emotional well-being of the world.   

He offered the final 15 minutes of his presentation for a Q&A session where other professors and emotional analysts shared their insights and questions. If you find yourself intrigued by Keltner’s findings, the archived lecture can be found on the InCHIP website

You can also contact Keltner at keltner@berkeley.edu if you are interested in speaking and sharing your own insight with him as well.  

1 COMMENT

  1. Emotions as well as our thinking pattern are components that can literally affect our physical health. There’s undesirable social conditioning which encourages the denial or suppression of our feelings, because these make us “appear” weak.. especially men who are told to be tough. Avoiding emotional issues can and do have long term health hazards, so it’s great that you write such articles. Have a lovely day! 🙏🏻💕🙏🏻

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