How Rich Is Your Emotional Experience?

How many emotions do you experience in a day?

How many negative emotions do you experience in a day?

How many positive emotions do you experience in a day?

According to an emotion is:

A mental state that arises spontaneously rather than through conscious effort and is often accompanied by physiological changes; a feeling

Bring on the List

We recently got into a discussion with gal africana about how many emotions we experience in a day.

Gal, after much careful investigative work (with readers like gal, I really don’t need to work do I?) managed to find a comprehensive list of the human emotions that we are able to experience as people. The list is attached below as a pdf file (which needs Adobe Reader to read):

Comprehensive List of Emotions

Gal told me she was surprised that after reading the list: she realized she experienced a lot more emotions in a day than she initially thought. Now as I write this I haven’t looked at a list.

In absence of that, I think, I experience 2 emotions: mild anxiety and flow (state where I am high, happy, exuberant and full of life). Now, in real time like 24 people, I will examine the list and tell you the results.

Drum roll Please……..

In a typical day, I experience:

35 positive emotions

19 neutral emotions and;

30 negative emotions


That’s Way More Than I Would Have Ever Thought

Who would have thought I could experience so much sitting in the house working on a computer! So today I challenge you to examine how many of the emotions in the pdf file you experience in a typical day.

A Little Game I Invented: Emotional Switch Game

A little something I came up with I call, the Emotional SWITCH! game (I didn’t want it to be some cryptic name like Emotions from the Abyss, so let’s stick with a nice, simple, straightforward name alright).

The basic point of the game is this:

  1. Pick one negative or neutral emotion that you experience regularly.

  2. Replace it with a positive emotion that you would like to experience in its place. Example: Instead of anxiety, you would like to feel assertiveness.

  3. For the next 24 hour period (or longer if you wish), any time you feel anxious immediately replace feelings of anxiety with feelings of assertiveness i.e. any time you experience the negative or neutral emotion replace it with the positive one.

  4. Rinse and repeat until you are consistently feeling the positive emotion instead of the negative or neutral one.

How to Make Yourself Feel Something

Right now let me take this little intermission to discuss ways in which we can make ourselves feel something e.g. How we can make ourselves feel assertive when we are feeling anxious. There are a few ways I know of, credit Tony Robbins for this knowledge:

  1. External stimulus: When I watch African American movies I feel very confident, strong and assertive. When I watch a lot of indie films I feel depressed and scared. When I listen to R&B I feel safe, confident and secure. When I listen to hip hop, I feel aggressive. This is in no way a novel idea: Certain forms of media or other forms of external stimulus (including food, people, places, toys and things) make us feel certain ways. Surround yourself with things that make you feel assertive as much as is possible on the day you want to replace anxiety with assertiveness.

  2. Remember and recall your internal dialogue when you feel something: You ever noticed how the way you talk inside your head sounds very different depending on how you’re feeling. When I am in a state of euphoria or ecstasy or joy, I don’t think. I maybe have one thought every fifteen minutes but other than that I just am and you may think you are conversing with a conscious, thoughtful being….nah, I’m just letting whatever is in my subconscious flow out. When I am anxious, I THINK! I sit and I over-analyze everything. I think about this blog. I think about the future. I think about my health. I tend to do it in a very progressive, Socratic, detached fashion and I have done pretty much the same thing for four years. What goes on in your head when you are assertive. What song plays in your head? What do you say to yourself? What images do you see? Bring them all back whenever you are feeling anxious and flood it all out with the assertive mental material.

  3. Use your body the same way you do when you feel the desired emotion: Strictly speaking, what we should do here is pretty much manipulate our body so that we take on the same body language we have when we feel assertive. In my experience though, this hasn’t worked out -not to say it doesn’t, it works extremely well from some. It didn’t work for me because as I would be manipulating my body I would tend to over-think the experience. Therefore my general strategy-not always applicable-is to either go for a run or dance in a very aggressive manner when you feel the anxiety (or -ve emotion you don’t want). This results in you stepping out of your head and focusing on the run and/or the dance. This movement tends to result in a much better emotional state and from there go towards the emotional state you are after- like say the assertiveness.

And In Conclusion

One of the intentions behind the game is to remind ourselves, because we always forget, just how much control we have over our emotional states when you choose to focus on them. Once your confidence in your abilities to manipulate your emotional state have been reaffirmed, slowly move yourself towards a place where your day will be predominantly filled with positive emotions all the time.

Smiling African

In truth, I don’t think we’ll ever be rid of negative emotions because sometimes we need them. But that shouldn’t stop us from creating a head and heart space that is mainly about feeling good.

By the way, out of curiosity:

a) What is your favorite emotion? Mine are two: flow and quiet bliss ( I don’t know the exact name for it, but it’s a feeling where I am quiet, safe, secure and yet have like a volcano of joy just bubbling inside)

b) How many emotions do you experience in a day?

If you know your personal answer answer to any of these questions, leave a comment below and let me know what it is.

Be blessed and bless others,


No Comments

  • By nyarshady, April 11, 2008 @ 8:10 am

    flow? hmmm, I like contentment!thats an emotion I love. actually love as well.As for how many emotions in a day.If you experience 84 when you thought you only experienced two then for me they must be many.Although I don’t think I’m an emotional person…generally. The thing about emotions is that most of the time, they’re just emotions.

  • By Mwangi, April 11, 2008 @ 8:15 am

    Hey nyar,
    Contentment is a pretty sweet one and it’s also a part of my favorite emotion that I can’t quite describe. I think if you look over the list you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as I was, I never thought I experienced so much fluctuation in emotions but I guess I do.
    Thx 4 stopping by it’s always nice when a newbie such as myself is visited by veteran bloggers.

  • By Kelly, April 11, 2008 @ 3:44 pm

    I’m not even sure if this is an emotion, but when I wake up feeling driven, purposeful, confident, I have the best days ever. Another good one is the euphoria I get when I really like someone and there is the chance they like me back (it happens once in a while but feels really good).
    I think I experience at most, 20 emotions each day, though they are all closely related to what I feel like when I wake up.
    I like the bit about controlling emotions. I have been trying to do that over the last few months (part of emotional intelligence training) and I must say it’s rewarding (not all feelings are that easy to control though)

  • By Kelly, April 11, 2008 @ 4:04 pm

    About the plug in, for some reason, I don’t have a plug ins tab on my dashboard. Could you please help with some technical info on how to upload it? Thanks

  • By shiku, April 11, 2008 @ 10:46 pm

    Man! I never ever thought there were so many emotions that we go thru’, until i saw this, actually i have a printout on my desk as i write this,come to think of it, i experience so many. I am a very confident person, although i dint know it was an emotion until now, and at the same time i am pretty impatient. Am friendly,but i get irritated easily, but i bet i can replace irritability with tolerance. Thank you Mwangi for giving me a chance to evaluate myself, believe me, am sooooooooooooo on it!

  • By gal africana, April 11, 2008 @ 10:56 pm

    Is there a name for the feeling that one is doing exaclty what one is supposed to be doing, doing it exceptionally well, and it is a positive contribution to others? That is my favourite emotion. If I could I’d bottle it.

    (where on earth did you get the impression that Kenyan gals experiment when they leave the country??)

  • By Mwangi, April 12, 2008 @ 10:07 am

    @Kelly: and I was thinking today, that there are some emotions, such as that euphoria we get from falling for someone, that we don’t even want to have control over because it messes up the experience.
    In regards to the plugin situation, I have been thinking about it and I have never had a free wordpress account, I pay for the hosting of mine, so I don’t know if my tips would work but I will attach a video that shows step by step how plugins get uploaded. The free video can be found at:
    If that doesn’t work out and you still want to get the plugin called then I have a few more tricks in my bag.

  • By Mwangi, April 12, 2008 @ 10:10 am

    @gal: I think that is probably a lot of emotions rolled up into one. No need to bottle it, just recreate it and bring it back into your daily experience more often (maybe we can add the emotions we want to feel more regularly to our bucket list).
    As for Kenyan gals and experimentation, lest we forget that I have been here for quite a while and I have seen some women who get up here and decide that this place is a world class buffet for the senses and they must try everything on the menu. Sometimes this manifests itself in beautiful ways but others……are more interesting.

  • By Mwangi, April 12, 2008 @ 10:13 am

    @shiku: You are more than welcome and I am glad the article was of service to you. Looking forward to seeing your comments on other posts.

  • By Kelly, April 14, 2008 @ 3:36 pm

    Thanks for the tip. Will try it.

    You’re right, the falling in love / crush feeling is awesome, but at the same time so troubling and distracting, but for some reason, the one emotion that you don’t feel like controlling.

  • By Mwangi, April 15, 2008 @ 7:20 am

    @Kelly: Let me know how you go.

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