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September 2021

The emotion equations; a unifying theory of the importance of emotions

I'm an engineer. I like the elegance and simplicity of the math underlying the physics of our universe (like Maxwell's Equations and Euler’s formula). So, in that spirit, I present the emotion equations:

ℰ ⊂ ∫𝒰
ℰ ≠ ±
ℰ = ⓘ
𝒰(☺,☮) ⇒ {ℰ} + 𝑓(ℰ)
𝑓(ℰ) > 1
And here's what they mean:
  • Emotions exist
  • Emotions are an integral part of you
  • Emotions are neither good nor bad (so don’t judge them)
  • Emotions convey information (how you relate to the world around you)
  • Serenity requires embracing and processing all of your emotions
  • You cannot do this alone

ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) all have one thing in common: relationships

ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) are a good indicator of childhood trauma. I personally experienced 4 ACEs during my childhood. Looking down the list, they all have one thing in common: relationships.

They are either an example of unhealthy relationship behaviors (physical, emotional or sexual abuse), or they represent the loss of an important relationship (prison, death, divorce). Even drug and alcohol abuse is based in unhealthy emotional regulation and the inability to consistently and compassionately connect with oneself and others.

As George Vaillant—director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development*—said, “The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.” I expand this to say:

The only thing that truly matters in life are your relationships: with other people, but also and especially with yourself.

I call this Grant’s Razor.


*For more info on the Harvard Study of Adult Development, check out this amazing TED talk by the current director of the study, Robert Waldinger.