Emotions, Feelings and Moods
Does anybody know the difference?
Emotions and feelings are often used interchangeably, but they really aren’t the same thing. So what is the difference between emotions and feelings and moods?
Simple Answer: Time
It’s Only a Matter of Time
Emotions are chemicals released in response to our interpretation of a specific trigger. It takes our brains about 1/4 second to identify the trigger, and about another 1/4 second to produce the chemicals. By the way, emotion chemicals are released throughout our bodies, not just in our brains, and they form a kind of feedback loop between our brains & bodies. They last for about six seconds – hence the name of our organization.
Feelings happen as we begin to integrate the emotion, to think about it, to “let it soak in.” In English, we use “feel” for both physical and emotional sensation — we can say we physically feel cold, but we can also emotionally feel cold. This is a clue to the meaning of “feeling,” it’s something we sense. Feelings are more “cognitively saturated” as the emotion chemicals are processed in our brains & bodies. Feelings are often fueled by a mix of emotions, and last for longer than emotions.
Moods are more generalized. They’re not tied to a specific incident, but a collection of inputs. Mood is heavily influenced by several factors: the environment (weather, lighting, people around us), physiology (what we’ve been eating, how we’ve been exercising, how healthy we are), and finally our mental state (where we’re focusing attention and our current emotions). Moods can last minutes, hours, probably even days.
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Feelings and Emotions and Moods In Brief
Why Does It Matter?
Discerning between emotions and feelings and moods is one part of a process called enhancing emotional literacy, which means honing your ability to accurately identify and understand what you are feeling, in real time.
It’s one of the 8 competencies that make up the Six Seconds Model of Emotional Intelligence, which is a framework for putting emotional intelligence into action. We are a global non-profit dedicated to helping people practice emotional intelligence everywhere, all the time.
If you want to learn more about the neuroscience of emotions, check out these articles…