Liberating Change


Dalai Lama Has the Antidote to Destructive Emotions

The Atlas of Emotions — an interactive map to understand our feelings.

Emotions are deceiving — some can even pollute our mind.

In a groundbreaking move, the Dalai Lama joined forces with top Western psychologists with a lofty mission. He purposefully wanted to put religion aside.

“Any person capable of angering you becomes your master.” — Epictetus

Our emotions shape our lives, not just our thoughts and behavior. However, in western culture, managing our emotions is associated with moral and social interaction, not for being a good person. Unlike Buddhists, we don’t think of emotions as a way to a harmonious inner-life.

The Science of Emotions

Western science has been measuring what mental hygiene looks like for ages — unfortunately, most studies have created division, rather than alignment, among experts.

  • We all experience five fundamental emotions: anger, fear, disgust, sadness, and enjoyment
  • There are universal triggers to emotion
Image for post
Image for post
The Five Universal Emotions — Source:

The Emotional Timeline

The Atlas of Emotions is a visual representation of what researchers have learned from studying emotion. It helps us be aware of our emotions — how they are triggered, what they feel like, and how we can respond.

Image for post
Image for post
Source: Atlas of Emotion

“Whatever is begun in anger, ends in shame.” — Benjamin Franklin

Not all emotions are equal — they have varying shapes and intensities. For example, annoyance is a mild expression of anger, while fury is the most extreme version of that same emotion.

Image for post
Image for post
The different manifestations of anger — Atlas of Emotion

The Antidote to Destructive Emotions

Scientists have learned that recurring negative emotions can create long-term harm.

“A calm mind directly leads to peace of mind” — Dalai Lama

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Peter Hershey on Unsplash

How to Develop Emotional Hygiene

The same way we learn standards of physical hygiene, we must develop our emotional hygiene. Start by increasing your emotional awareness — you want to understand your emotions, not get rid of them.

1. Recognize emotions

Take time to step back and observe your emotions. How do you feel? What do you experience? Naming our emotions is the first step to increase awareness.

2. Know the triggers

Understand what sets you off. Recognize the signals or stimuli that can cloud your judgment. Are there any particular event, context, or person that usually triggers destructive emotions?

3. Connect with your body

Our facial language is not the only way we communicate our emotions. Recognize how your feelings affect your body. Notice changes in your breathing pattern, body temperature, heart rate, muscle knots, skin sensitivity, etc.

4. Manage your reactions

Reflect on how you usually react to a specific situation? Learn to pause before you respond. Emotions usually create a quick impulse to react, by training our mind, we make room to think before our emotions hijack our behavior.

5. Adjust and learn

Emotional Hygiene requires learning to perceive, appraise and express our emotions accurately. Your emotion-management ability not only improves well-being and social interactions but also helps overcome limiting behaviors such as procrastination.

Written by

I help teams and organizations build fearless cultures. Creator of the Culture Design Canvas. Insights →

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store