Most of us love to feel joy. Some of us revel in angst. But what is the point?
Humans are social beings and are deeply connected to one another through a complex web of physiological signals and sensations.
The physiological sensations are called emotions, and their role is to maintain the ever stronger bonds that made humans human.
John Cacioppo, Sociopsychologist (2008)
But not all emotions connect us to other humans in the same manner. Emotions, especially negative ones, such as anger, sadness and hopelessness, may connect us to another human only when used infrequently and without guile. The famous Ella Wheeler Wilcox quote:
Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone; For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth, But has trouble enough of its own
is mostly true, especially if the person weeping, weeps often and without undeniable cause. People who constantly swim in their negative emotions eventually find themselves alone. Emotions can be a repellent as well as a connector. Babies know this. They smile and giggle, and stretch their arms wide, hoping to be picked up and loved. They cry, also, hoping to be relieved from their misery. Adults do the same. But the perpetually miserable person eventually is seen as unattractive and pity towards her eventually turns to contempt.
Emotions push us socially towards others, or away from them. And many a human bond is broken because of an emotion.