There was a time in my life when I had very little vocabulary to describe my emotions beyond happy, sad, and… hungry. OK, technically the third one isn’t really an emotion but it’s all I had at the time. Much later in life, I learned to identify and distinguish a wider range of emotions, to understand what triggers them within me, and to make better choices regarding how I respond to my own emotional states. What stands out in my memory about my efforts to learn this stuff is: 1) it was not fun, 2) it was haphazard, 3) it’s a lifelong pursuit.

A few years ago the Dalai Lama got together with Doctors Paul and Eve Ekman, the world’s top researchers on emotion to create an online “map” of universal emotions. The Atlas of Emotions is designed to help us navigate the strong emotions we experience every day using constructive response strategies. One of these strategies is understanding our personal triggers and response patterns. The Atlas, which offers an interactive and user-driven learning experience, is organized around five universal emotions: fear, enjoyment, sadness, disgust, and anger. A user can track a trigger event (e.g., a friend gets angry with you) and then explore the emotions (e.g., fear, sadness) and different responses they may have to that emotion such as avoidance, hesitation, worry or rage. Additionally, the website features a video conversation between the Dalai Lama and Paul Ekman on topics like “strategies to cultivate a calm mind in the midst of strong emotions.”

The Atlas of Emotions is a great tool for leaders who want to increase their emotional literacy – particularly people who respond to well-researched content, interesting graphics, and interactive learning. Check out this tool and let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Photo Credit: Jev55

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