New research from the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology in Glasgow postulates there are 4 primary emotional states: happiness, anger, sadness and fear from which more complex emotions are derived. It is these four primary emotional states that envelope and motivate us or provide caution. Just as nutritionists recommend that a well-balanced diet in moderate quantities from all 5 primary food groups is essential to good physical health, so experience of the four primary emotional states, in moderation, is essential to psychological well-being.
The emotional states of happiness, anger, sadness and fear are fundamentally a tool to help guide thought and behaviour and influence social connections. Below is a concise explanation of the functions of each emotion.
Fear: 'fight or flight' reaction. Fear warns you to be more cautious, to give more analysis to a situation before acting.
Anger: to signal something needs your attention and to communicate your thoughts and feelings when required to rectify a problem either with yourself or others.
Sadness: lets you know you have lost something of value. It is the signal that you need to take time to process your thoughts around the loss and not rush through life without due processing of loss.
Happiness: well, happiness is the feel-good emotion. The more happiness experienced, the greater the buffer against negative emotions occurring in unhealthy quantities. It is clear happiness is something to strive for and there are many pathways to happiness, yet don’t make happiness the goal, but rather the process to 'well-being', 'life satisfaction' and 'living the good life'.