July 10, 2019

Feeling Well is Part of Being Well

By Robert Musser, Ph.D.

Image result for world emoji day

Know what?  Sometimes I don’t feel so good.  I’m sad.  Image result for sad emoji  I’m lonely.  Image result for lonely emoji  I’m angry.  Image result for angry emoji  Other days I feel great!  I’m happy Image result for smiley emoji.  I’m giddy . Image result for giddy emoji  I’m hopeful. Image result for hopeful emoji  I’m guessing that many of us around here are like me—more comfortable with our intellect than we are with our emotions.  Feelings are for poets and mystics and such; they are not the stuff of science and careful reasoning.  It’s not so easy to put into words what and how we are feeling.  Maybe that’s part of the popularity of emojis.  We can depict visually how we feel more easily than we can name our emotions.  Indeed, these diminutive symbols have quickly become favorite additions to our notes, so much so that there is now a “World Emoji Day,” July 17, 2019.[1]  How do you intend to celebrate?

Emojis began in Japan and started with the emoticons designed from creative combinations of existing type characters: :-) and ;-(  and so forth.  Coders soon created the take-offs from the smiley face: Image result for smiley emoji .  Shingetaka Kurit in 1999 created the first of these, and his original 176 emoji are now part of the permanent collection at the New York Museum of Modern Art.  Could we say that there is an art to representing our emotions?  As you probably know, today there are all manner of  emojis, and there have been intentional efforts to represent men, women, children, seniors, turbaned folk, people of color, all varieties of the human range of identity and emotion.  In 2015, Image result for 2015 oxford word of the yeartears of joy, was named the Oxford Dictionary “word of the year.”  Wired.com calls emojis, “a lingua franca for the digital age.”  In addition, the same article notes that emojis were “. . . designed to add emotional nuance to otherwise flat text.”[2]

We in the medical sciences ignore our own emotional component to our detriment.  We humans are reasoning, sapient beings (homo sapiens).  We are also emotive beings, and full healthiness includes “emotional intelligence.”  We do feel, and we need to develop our ability to recognize our emotions and to integrate them into a balanced physical, mental, and emotional whole.  Be well, then.  Think well and deeply.  Act well.  Feel well and deeply.  You will be the better for it.  While you’re at it, celebrate World Emoji Day this July 17.

[1] This date was chosen because the calendar emoji highlights July 17.

[2] The information and quotes in this paragraph are largely drawn from Arielle Pardes, “The Wired Guide to Emoji.” https://www.wired.com/story/guide-emoji/.