Emotional Behavior + Awareness Thinking = Inspiring Results
This week’s blog is one of my favorite areas of interest. It’s about insanity, self-worth, and awareness. The human species, as advanced as it has become, still fails to fully appreciate our hard-wired emotions. Sports may be the perfect environment for this genetic craving.
In this Week’s Blog
- Sports Fanaticism
- It’s in Our Genes
- Insanity’s Golden Thread
- Emotions Rule
- An Emotional Compass
The actual number of distinct sports varies depending on the source; however, the total number of different sports is around 8,000. This list below of the top 10 most-watched sports varies depending upon which source you deem authoritative; however, soccer rings in at the number one spot in almost all surveys.
Ranked by the number of fans (globally):
- Soccer 3.5 billion
- Cricket 2.5 billion
- Basketball 2.2 billion
- Field Hockey 2.0 billion
- Tennis 1.0 billion
- Volleyball 900 million
- Table Tennis 850 million
- Baseball 500 million
- Football 410 million
- Golf 390 million
Have you ever wondered why so much of our culture is consumed with sports? Humans are sports crazy. Some of us eat, drink, live, and breathe sports. The sports obsession today is just as it was thousands of years ago in all corners of the world.
Why do sports seem to overshadow important topics like education, medical advancements, or scientific innovations? Why does the topic of starvation and poverty take a back seat to sports? I’m not saying that we don’t’ think and care about these things – of course, most of us do. From my vantage point, sports seem all-consuming in our culture.
Think about how we could improve lives if the 8 billion people on the planet could focus on one lofty global initiative to improve life. A fraction of the money, time, energy, resources, and consumables dedicated to sports would go a long way in improving our planet’s health for the continuation of all species. Seems kind of important to me. Could it be that these virtuous initiatives are a tad more vital than running around playing games? The obvious answer is yes. So, why is it our culture has this maddening sports fascination?
So far in human history, a few lofty goals have gotten traction, but certainly not the global attention, passion, and reverence reserved for sports. These ‘greater good’ human needs are extremely rational, yet, regrettably, the human race does not use rationality as its primary ruling influence. If Mr. Spock (Star Trek’s famously logical Vulcan) were in charge, I would bet our planet would be headed down the rational path. Alas, we humans are emotional creatures. Humans, unlike Vulcans, rely on our deepest genetic wiring: emotions. Emotions are the primary control of just about everything in our lives.
It’s in Our Genes.
Genetically we need sports. We are hardwired for emotions first and rational thinking second (or maybe even further down the list). Sports provide us with an “emotional outlet”. It’s why we can watch a crisis in the news during the day, but we must not miss the game coming up tonight.
As a participant, sports can bring positive things to our lives: fitness, discipline, and character-building. What are the benefits of ‘fandom’? That’s where the emotional piece comes in. Coming together and rooting for your team builds comradery. Sports spectating provides entertainment and stress relief, and a sense of belonging. After all, our very existence depends on our ability to work together – always has. Early humans needed to belong to a group to survive.
Teamwork, the combined action of a group toward a common goal, is the quintessential slogan in sports. We can’t Imagine only one football team on the gridiron or one basketball team on the court. How could tennis be a game with only one player? Emotions can be the rocket fuel for teams. And emotions love company – crowds, in particular.
- Some people exercise. Some don’t.
- Some people eat healthy. Some don’t.
- Some people participate in sports. Some spectate.
- Some people train hard, eat healthy, and practice – sometimes to the point of exhaustion and injury.
- Some people sit on couches, consume beer and pizza, get fat and lazy – sometimes to the point of exhaustion.
Both sets of people are sports fanatics. Interestingly, both groups with wildly different lifestyles, are sports fans for the same reason: emotional needs or attachments. Some of us need direct emotional attachment by playing. Others’ emotional needs are satisfied with spectating. (Authors note: At times it’s more entertaining to watch the spectators than it is to watch the game. I find it hilarious when fans think they’re actually in the game or think they could play better than those on the field.)
Research tells us that the role of ‘mirror neurons’, specialized brain cells, may activate whether you carry out an action (like shooting a basketball) or merely watching another person do it. This may be what allows us to live vicariously through an athlete we’re watching on TV.
This logic stands the test of time. Remember back a few years ago when the Roman Empire’s famous coliseum hosted gladiator events? Some people were battling in the ring, and some sat in the stands watching and cheering – just like today. Although, I read that Roman spectators enjoyed chickpeas, pastries, and sweet wine instead of beer and pizza. Regardless, the Romans were driven by the same thing for the same reason: the human emotional ‘fix’.
Emotions play a fascinating role in how we work as humans. Our species evolved to have emotions from the moment we are born – a combination of clever mechanisms involving cells and chemicals inside our central nervous system.
Sports can provide participants and spectators huge emotional fixes! Thus, sports may be a great expressive avenue for anyone.
The Golden Thread of Insanity Weaves Human Nature.
As stated earlier, humans are driven by emotions, and none of us can escape them. Originally, emotions made up our basic ‘wiring’ for survival. Run from the saber-toothed tiger! (Remember, in a tribe you didn’t have to be the fastest runner, you just couldn’t be the slowest.)
The insanity part is that many among us believe we are rational thinking creatures. I would say that a rare few are indeed in this category. However, humans in general act via our emotions first, and maybe sprinkle in rationality from time to time. The degree to which we are rational falls into categories like awareness, reflection, and wisdom. These are developed over time, and could be said to be our auxiliary ‘wiring’. This additional genetic wiring is significant. Reflection and wisdom allowed humans to become the apex predator on planet earth. Our auxiliary wiring should not be underestimated, yet it does usually appear after our emotions have had their way with us.
Understanding and acceptance of our genetic emotional behaviors is the first step in cultivating and expanding our awareness. Awareness precedes our ability to reflect and learn. Engaging in improving the world is about awareness. The awareness that we are driven first by our emotions and then by reflection, rational thinking, and learning might be the greatest divide between nations and peoples.
That monster piece of cake can be emotional comfort food, and surely not rational. The junk food/fast food addiction resulting in unhealthy bodies is another emotional pacifier, and not rational. Athletes who train and play insanely hard are also getting a needed emotional jolt. It’s not rational to take risks that would result in injury. Exercise in a controlled environment would minimize most injuries. But, oh no, us crazy athletes, and especially those in extreme sports, push the limits. This is where we get the highest emotional charge – living on the edge.
All individuals are driven by emotions – good or bad, regulated, or uncontrolled. Some want to build their health, and there are those who choose to destroy it. Both have the same unbending dedication to very different ends. Both are emotional quests. In my opinion, it takes just as much concentrated stubborn persistence to become fat and lazy as it does to become a lean healthy machine. You have to stay the course to achieve either of these results. They can be equally emotionally difficult and physically painful to achieve.
Intellectually, we can build our minds by reading, studying, exploring, and creating. Or we can watch the news (mental smoking) or worse, become trolls attempting to ruin everything with which we come into contact (not excluding neighbors, friends, and loved ones). Both directions take purposeful dedication and adamant tenacity.
Example: Our very democracy is emotionally driven and not rational. Otherwise, we might have a unified effort in congress to work and serve all citizens. Few of us ever vote without our first and foremost governing path – our emotions. Sadly, this is probably why we have the volatile division in our country today. A rational voting population would demand collaboration, servant leadership, and rational decision-making skills from our politicians. Here’s something I have pondered: Let’s say both Senate seats were won by a single party in your state. Does this mean that those Senators would act in ways to serve only their party’s constituents? The only way that makes rational sense is if your state’s population is 100% the same party. Last time I check no state is 100% anything. So how could partisanship ever meet the needs of the entire citizenry? I calmly refer to this as yet another definition of insanity. This is not rational. I believe irrational partisanship is emotionally driven.
A deluded mentality that we are rational beings permeates into every aspect of our existence. It also creates all the confusion and disorder in politics, religions, business, and even sports. All of these are subject to human primary emotional wiring, and all are rife with impulsiveness. For people who can appreciate this reality, a doorway can open to having a powerful advantage over the masses. Examples of how this kind of power can be used are manipulation and leadership. Unfortunately, due to the extent of emotional wiring, many may not be able to discern between these two.
Example: Even the Shaolin monks, who devote their lives to controlling emotions, fall prey to this paradox. How do I know this? Watch them jump, kick, and swing weapons at high speeds. Watch them break boards and blocks. It’s the contradiction of the control of emotions and the emotion that controls the output. I agree that these displays are done in a tightly measured defensive manner. But I believe there must also be an emotion-satisfier that accompanies becoming a master of self-defense. And, martial arts is a sport, after all.
This emotional push and pull can be likened to the Jekyll and Hyde complex. Some emotions serve us well, and some don’t. We seek and experience life in an emotional tradition. We are not primarily rational creatures and never have been. If we were, I would think there would be no such thing as war or famine. Hard stop.
How do we embrace this primary genetic emotional need and benefit our well-being and the well-being of those around us? The magic is in learning how to direct these overriding genetic currents of emotions toward positive lifestyle results instead of destructive ones. Emotions can obey our will towards well-being. Once we understand how the emotional compass works, it can change our world. We all make the choice of allowing our emotions to work for or against us.
There is a universal connection between our perceived self-worthiness and the emotional road map we create and follow. The feeling of unworthiness can lead to destructive tendencies like poor eating habits, drug addictions, and troll-like behaviors. Shame and disgrace can feel like a helpless rabbit hole. If we feel worthy, we will honor our bodies and minds with healthy inputs. Feeling worthy allows us to cultivate relationships, not alienate others. How we treat ourselves and those around us has a direct correlation to our perception of our self-worthiness. A healthy self-perception demands that we support and inspire others to reach for their incredible potential.
How do we improve our worthiness? First, we must acknowledge the law of awareness. Becoming truly aware codifies where we are on life’s journey. When we reflect on the soundness of the universe’s demand for awareness, wisdom emerges and becomes our guide. The results can be transformational to our mindset, health, the people around us, and our world. Humans are driven by emotions; however, the direction in which those emotions take us is governed by our self-worthiness. When we go out into the world to produce results, we are limited by our self-worth. Improving the perception of our value starts with an awareness of our deepest beliefs about ourselves.
Example: I contend that journalists/broadcasters who report nothing but corruption, tragedy, failure, and other sordid stories have chosen to destroy themselves and the world around them. It’s based on their self-worth in relation to the respect they offer their audience. At worst, this is emotional terrorism. Sadly, the majority of our population has chosen to blindly listen, and follow them.
If I truly believe I am a precious miracle (and I do), then I will see the same marvelous quality in those around me. My actions, speech, and behaviors will align with this belief. Wouldn’t it seem logical that we would treat others similarly to the way our inner voice treats us? Let this thought sink in. It may be a revolutionary viewpoint, yet equally transformative.
An Emotional Compass.
Our emotional guide could be discovered by ‘back-channeling’ our intellect and self-worthiness. Back-channeling assumes there is a two-way communication and implies that the listener provides affirmation to the speaker. This self-affirmation can help guide our emotions, giving us a brilliant compass. Channeling our awareness back towards our emotions can provide direction. This emotional compass keeps us on a healthy mindset course.
Be well, my friend. Channel your emotions towards a better world for you and those around you. Follow your compass of self-worthiness. Sports can play a significant role in healthy lifestyles. I would suggest, as you are able, participate in sports instead of just spectating. Become the gladiator!
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It is my greatest hope that you will implement some tips from our Bio-Cultivating and Neural-Cultivating blogs. Further, it is my hope you will be inspired to pass these learnings along to family and friends. We all have people in our lives who have the desire but lack the accurate information to improve their health. It is frustrating to sift through the bombardment of data and the misinformation in today’s world. It’s no wonder some give up in frustration. I believe that we deserve the healthiest choices that honest modern science can offer. It is my mission to help as many of us as possible get and stay healthy.
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