“Emodiversity” celebrates the idea that a full life contains a wide range of thoughts and feelings.
Posted in , Feb 13, 2020
Is there anything less helpful and authentic than labeling emotions either “good” or “bad?” No, say proponents of a psychological approach called “emodiversity.” Rather than dismissing or denigrating so-called negative emotions, these proponents say we benefit both physically and emotionally from embracing the full range of our inner lives.
Scientists who study biodiversity and are learning that more species and habitats are beneficial for the natural world. Similarly, emodiversity researchers are finding that an abundance of emotional experience—including awe, contentment, hope, gratitude, joy, pride AND anxiety, fear, shame, sadness, embarrassment and guilt—fosters both mental and physical well-being.
A survey of more than 30,000 individuals found that those who let themselves feel that abundance of emotions scored high on an emodiversity test. That means they reported 25 percent fewer visits to the doctor and spent three times less on medical care than those with low scores. Depression rates were also lower in high-scoring emodiversity respondents.
Why is this the case? The authors use a word that we use a lot at Guideposts—“authentic”—to describe why emodiversity is, as they call it a "previously unidentified metric for assessing the health of the human emotional ecosystem.”
Living with emotional authenticity could be beneficial for three possible reasons:
1) Emodiversity is more “adaptive,” meaning that when we experience a wide variety of emotional states, we learn more about how we respond to the myriad circumstances and situations that life presents us with.
2) Emodiverse people are more self-aware, as their ability to recognize and name their various emotional experiences reflects their ability to see themselves clearly.
3) Emodiversity can be emotionally protective because someone who experiences a range of emotions is less likely to get mired in anger, sadness or other challenging emotional states. Knowing a difficult feeling is one among many can be both grounding and comforting in tough times.
Do you feel “emodiversity” could be helpful to your emotional life?