‘Hand speak expresses things that are either too basic to waste words on or too personal.’ ‘Too personal?’ ‘Yeah, stuff that’s really important or hard to say. Like about love or hate or stuff you’re scared about. You know how when you have something big to tell someone, you stammer through it or sit in front of your mirror practising what to say? Aandrisks don’t bother with that. They let the gestures take care of all the awkwards. They figure that big, deep feelings are universal enough to be defined with just a flick of the hand or whatever, even though the events that cause those feelings are unique.’
– Becky Chambers, The long way to a small angry planet
Research by Paul Ekman states that we have six basic emotions that are recognized across all human cultures: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise. It’s interesting that four of them are negative, only one positive, and then one that could be either positive or negative (surprise).
I can’t remember where I read it but someone explained that the difference between emotions and feelings is: emotions turns into feelings when we become conscious of them and stark thinking about them. I like this distinction because it can make it much easier to think about my basic emotions and differentiate them from all the stories I create in my mind based on what happened.
Another good distinction is made in non violent communication where they separate thinking and feeling in a similar way.