This is something I handwrote more than a year ago. I read through it a few days ago thinking that it was probably some stupid thing that I don’t agree with any more, but it’s actually quite good. Here it is.
For a long time, I have thought of the purpose of my life as being to spread a message. I thought this even before I really had any idea what that message could be, and I continued to think it when I thought my message was something that I now understand to be incorrect. I’m not saying that I understand completely what my message is now or even that I think of my life in that same context any more. What I do know for sure is that I’m ready to share a message, or at least to begin.
I don’t know how long it will take to convey this message, but I won’t rush it. It’s too important to rush, and I have to figure out how to translate it into a form understandable by anyone.
To sum it up, my message is this: The only true understanding is a logical one. To explain it, I have to first explain what I understand of emotions.
Emotions are a part of the brain, and all animals have them. They are necessary for survival on both an individual level and a species level. Happiness serves as positive reinforcement to cause us to continue behaviors that help us to survive. Sadness is negative reinforcement, getting us to discontinue behaviors that hurt our chances to survive. Fear helps us to escape danger. Anger helps us fight when we need to. If we don’t listen to our emotions, we miss out on cues to take actions that are important to our survival.
As advanced and intelligent as we are, human societies are dominated by emotions. All art is meant to stir or evoke feelings. When we look at or talk to each other, we can’t help but share how we feel. Everything we want is to fill an emotional need. Even the desire to live is an emotional one. Without feelings, there is no point in living.
To understand the reasons why people behave in manners that they do, one has only to understand the emotions that each behavior stimulates. All behaviors can be assumed to be geared toward obtaining rewards, avoiding punishments, or both. Survival itself can fall into either category, but most often it is seen as a reward because only while alive can future rewards be enjoyed. A life full of nothing but punishments is a punishment in itself. Anticipation of such a life is a major factor in the decision to commit suicide, though many people have done it in anticipation of rewards in a life beyond the current one, and many people continue living lives full of punishments due to threats of greater punishments in a life beyond the current one.
In any case, the pattern of obtaining rewards of positive emotions and avoiding punishments of negative emotions can be found at the root of every human action, decision, intention, and reaction. With this understanding, everything people do makes sense. But within this explanation are further explanations that allow us to not only understand human behavior but also predict and control it.