Emotional States

How many times have you asked a colleague how their day was going, only to be told something like “frustrating” or “stressful”?  Those are strange responses, if you think about it, because they refer to internal emotional states.  They’re not about the work or the value that has been created.  They’re about how somebody feels.  Too often, people engaged in work wind up frustrated, upset, insulted, exhausted, drained, over-worked, bored, fearful, stressed, anxious, worried, hurt, angry, aggrieved and a range of other very negative emotions.  None of this would matter, except for the fact that these negative emotional states, if sustained, have been demonstrated to have a real and detrimental effect on long term physical and mental health.  They are, in effect, an assault on your person.

It’s equally remarkable that people rarely respond with a description of a positive emotional state.  People simply assume that they are not at work to be happy, engaged, intrigued, curious, fascinated, playful, joyful, empowered, successful, exploring or blissful.  Management doesn’t tend to use the achievement of these positive emotional states to motivate their staff.  I don’t know if that’s cultural, but it seems to me that if people were managed in such a way that the goal was to achieve positive emotional states, while they worked, productivity and the earnings of the company they work for would probably skyrocket.  Why, then, does most management practice have the effect of making people miserable?  Miserable people tend to die prematurely of heart attack or stroke.

The thing is, people are paid for the value they produce.  They are not paid to endure and experience negative emotional states.  That was never part of the deal.  You actually don’t get paid in order to suffer anxiety, or to feel worthless all day long, or to be thwarted in your attempts to apply your imagination, ingenuity or creativity.  Strangely, those that pay salaries often assume they are free to inflict these negative states of emotion on their workforce, as a bought and paid for entitlement.  Is it really?

I think that is one reason why so many people are drawn to the life of an artist.  Here, they can earn their bread and butter without necessarily being compelled to endure negative emotional states.  I’m not saying that the practice of art is entirely free from negative emotional impacts, but the chances are far higher that you will spend your day absorbed, fascinated, in the flow, blissful, contented, expressing your creativity, free from worry, feeling in command or your destiny and day and proud of your well-deserved achievements.  You might not make as much money, which can inflict its own negative emotional states on you, but you also don’t have to suffer gloomy or upsetting emotional states and have your life and health gradually ruined, by degrees, to earn a crust.

When you put it like that, the life of an artist could work out to be a very good deal indeed.

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About tropicaltheartist

You can find out more about me here: https://michaeltopic.wordpress.com/. There aren’t many people that exist in that conjunction of art, design, science and engineering, but this is where I live. I am an artist, a musician, a designer, a creator, a scientist, a technologist, an innovator and an engineer and I have a genuine, deep passion for each field. Most importantly, I am able to see the connections and similarities between each field of intellectual endeavour and apply the lessons I learn in one discipline to my other disciplines. To me, they are all part of the same continuum of creativity. I write about what I know, through my blogs, in the hope that something I write will resonate with a reader and help them enjoy their own creative life more fully. I am, in summary, a highly creative individual, but with the ability to get things done efficiently. Not all of these skills are valued by the world at large, but I am who I am and this is me. The opinions stated here are my own and not necessarily the opinion or position of my employer.
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6 Responses to Emotional States

  1. Clare says:

    I think you’re idealising just a tad Michael 🙂 So very very few of us artists can live on our art alone, and if you have to take paid employment then you have to deal with all the usual job crap, but usually for a job that you have little committment to. If you’re lucky, it might be a job related to your creativity (eg teaching), but all the same, you then have the pressure of trying to juggle your money-making job with your creative practice. If the job is a just-for-money thing (service industry etc etc) then you’re likely to be working for someone who has no idea who you are as a person, your talents and abilities, and, more than likely, doesn’t want to know. You may be more talented and intelligent than the person you have to take direction from, and even if you keep your head down and just try to do your job, often you can bear the brunt of other peoples’ jealousy, or suspicion, as you are different to them. You probably don’t have the time to hang around with work colleagues as you want to get on with your creative practice, this will effect how accepted you are by them and thereby your job security. You are constantly wearing two or three different hats. These days, unless you’re independently wealthy, or young and carefree, the artists’ life is not free from anxiety and negative emotions. It certainly has its pay-offs, but I think there are very few of us who get to have that ‘uninterrupted flow’ experience day in day out.

  2. Dilip says:

    Interesting thoughts. We need to keep off the breeding grounds of negative emotions.
    Thank you.

  3. Pingback: How to Deal with Negative People | Free Spirit for Life

  4. Pingback: The Journey (to be happy) | Getting Better, Man

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