TED NPR Radio Hour- Decoding Our Emotions

We experience powerful emotions all of the time, but what are they exactly? Where do they come from?

This hour, TED speakers invoke history, language, science and music to help us think about the way we feel. Guests include writer John Koenig, cultural historian Tiffany Watt Smith, psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett, developmental researcher Kang Lee, and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas.


Kris notes 4-20-18

guuuuuyyyyyy raz is back! 🙂 this guys voice is so soothing. its like i could listen to his voice while drifting asleep.

Saunder- The awareness that everyone has a story. We all have rich emotional experiences. Our lives are complex.

Dictionary of obscure sorrows(coming out soon, check this out.)- A dictionary that makes up words for different emotions that did not previously exist. Sounds very interesting. Like Saunder. How many words in the dictionary? around 700. WHAT? this sounds very interesting.

Lochasizem- The hunger for disaster. Part of the sting behind our sadness, is the emotional words are mysterious. Putting a name to a feeling. Feelings are complicated.

Let’s try and figure out what emotions are, and why we feel them?

John created this book because its sometimes difficult to name these emotions that we all feel at sometime or another.

  • yu-yee- the longing to feel intensely, the way you did as a kid.
  • juska- hypothetical conversation you play out
  • zielschmurtz- the dread of getting what you want
  • monokaupsus- subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place
  • elipscism- the sadness that you will never be able to know  how history plays out. you keep passing on the joke of being alive, without ever really knowing the punchline. passing the story onto someone else, so you never get to see how it ends.

i dont feel bad about misspelling(i spell checked this word haha) these words as they are not actually words 🙂

These are all made up words. We all feel this. It’s crazy how two people in the world can be feeling the exact same way, at the exact same time. 🙂

The history of emotions-how can emotions possible have histories?
We think of history has something that changes over time, but emotions as fixed, but this is not true. emotions are much more complicated than a simple reflex.

For most of modern history emotions weren’t actually called emotions.(didn’t know that!) The word emotions starts to be used around 1830. Before that we talked about passions, expressions of the soul, surprises of the heart.

Are human emotions universal? There are 6 CORE human emotions:

  • Disgust, Fear, Surprise, Happiness, Anger, Sadness

Every human experiences these emotions, in more or less the same way. As language changes, our emotions do too.

The nostalgia story is absolutely amazing. In the 1700’s a boy looked sick, so they thought he was going to die. They transport him and within a short time he fully recovers. Although he looked sick, he was not. He was HOMESICK. HOMESICK was defined then as nostalgia. The last person who died of nostalgia was in WWI in france. How is this even possible to die from this? Today the word means something different. It means a lost time, experiences. This change happened in the early 20th century. Was it the invention of the telephone, or railways that made people feel less home sick?

Emotions not only differ over time, but they differ country to country.

Science of emotions.

The assumption is your brain comes pre-wired with the basic emotions. Anger, fear, disgust, happiness, surprised, sadness. That when something trips one of these, we will have a specific visual response. heart rate changes, our facial expressions change. Do emotions apply universally to people across the board? Nope. These are not pre-wired, we learn these. We know that many of these emotion categories appear in many cultures, but they also fail to appear some cultures.

The boston bomber was tried and convicted and sentenced to death. When a jury has to make the decision life in prison VS death, they base their decision largely on the defendant showing remorse for his actions. He spoke words of apology, but when jurors saw him, all they saw was a stone faced stare. Now this guy is guilty, thats not up for debate, however based on SCIENCE, jurors do not, and cannot detect remorse, or any other emotion i anybody, ever. Nobody can. Emotions are not what we think they are. The results of test and experiment after experiment: EMOTIONS ARE GUESSES. The way we see emotions in other is deeply rooted in predictions. Like we read someones facial expression the way we would read words on a page. However your brain is PREDICTING, its using past experiences, based on similar situations to give meaning. Emotions that you perceive from others actually comes from inside your own brain.

We think we have this intuitive ability to sense how someone is feeling just by looking at them. There’s no scientific basis to make this prediction, except that were NOT ALWAYS WRONG, IN FACT WERE OFTEN RIGHT!

Here’s what we know: we know that there is no single objective measure for any emotion. For instance, someone can LOOK angry, but they are in fact just THINKING. When we perceive emotion in others, we are just educated guessing based on previous experiences. We guess correctly all the time…but sometimes our guesses are drastically wrong. women over 65 are more likely to die of a heart attack than men, one reason why is when they show up to ER, they and the doctors think they are anxious and they often get sent home, have a heart attack and die. drastic misconception.

Emotions aren’t in our face and body. Movements have no emotional meaning. We have to make them meaningful. We have to connect them to the context, and that makes emotions meaningful. Now we know that a smile might mean sadness, and a cry might mean happiness. A still face might mean you are planning the demise of an enemy.

The way we experience our own emotion is exactly the same process. Our brain is making predictions that is is constructing in the moment with millions of neurons.

Emotions are real, but they are real in a very situated way because we’ve learned, and agree, how to make sense of particular sensations, in particular situations. They really are a function of our collective imagination.

When very young kids lie, they learn pretty early on how to hide their emotions to control their facial expressions.

We know that underneath our skin, there are blood vessels. Blood flow changes. Our facial block can reveal hidden lies with accuracy around 85% through technology. With a regular freakin’ video camera. this is NUTS.

Training a video camera onto a human face, analyze facial blood flow and detect emotion at 93% within 3 states, positive, neutral and negative. Fear is about 64%

Some cultures don’t experience sadness, because the word doesn’t exist. The language doesn’t exist.

Depression in China is called “the love sickness”– its not because of a chemical imbalance, just simply you cannot find a partner for life.

Music performers are often not scared of emotions, which of course many people are. We find the music an easier, more comfortable place for us to reveal what we are really feeling. Inside of the music, it is possible to confess to the hard things that is very generous and very real, and allows us to hold on to the balance of the bigger picture of the world.

I need to start listening to classical music. I believe this will aide me in developing more of my emotional feelings.(now that im listening to this joint).

Music has a whole language in itself which is called HARMONY. For classical music, this has evolved for centuries.

the way this guy is talking about the emotion of music, i seriously want to just listen to some of it. it sounds so powerful! I should probably listen to the last 10 minutes of this podcast again and write proper notes.




Author: Kris

Hi my name is Kris, and I am addicted to personal development, and the word DETERMINATION! :) and BRENÉ BROWN!!! And BRIAN JOHNSON!!! Aaaaaaaand WOOOO!!!! 142.

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