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The Future of Feelings

by Rob Kall

211 N. Sycamore

Newtown, PA 18940


There are many things possible to be done, which yet no one can do. Varchi

There many things we can do, we haven't done... yet. Kall

Not long ago, the idea that you can control your mind and emotions through physical actions,, would have been flatly rejected. Those thinkers who based their view of the world on Descartes' observation, ''I think, therefore I am,'' assumed that the mind was of prime importance, and functioned separately from the body. Biofeedback, systems theories, particle physics, laser holography and other new concepts fly in the face of the Cartesian view of the world. We are on the threshold of magnificent advances in the psychology of making happiness.

As science and technology spawn new theories and devices, they will become metaphors for newer ways of viewing ourselves and our relationships to the brief time we spend here on earth-- new places and words will be ''cloned'' with ''laser'' precision. New discoveries will also change the way we think and feel and how we deal with our emotions. Here are some personal speculations on where the future of feelings will take us.

**Schools will include courses in self regulation, starting with the early grades--probably simple muscle relaxation and diaphragmatic breathing to start. Training in emotional self regulation, positive experience skills and meditative techniques will come later. Ultimately, I expect that smile workouts and laughter choirs will be part of the phys-ed work-outs, perhaps even part of the music and arts curriculum.

** Education facilities will offer courses in self-nurturing, altruism and volunteerism. People need to know more about how they can be helpful to others within their own limited time budget. The government will begin funding research, first, to learn what people know about how to be a volunteer and then what they need to be taught to increase the amount of volunteering they do. In our increasingly complex society, volunteer opportunities are everywhere, but experts will be needed to help people share their heart energy in new, productive channels opened by new technologies and ideas.

** Hard work has always been a respected ethic in the modern world. The attitude needs to evolve even further so that work is not only respected, but appreciated. As more and more people are supported by welfare, social security and unemployment insurance, work takes on greater value as a way to bring greater meaning to life and to opportunities to stretch one's resources towards new challenges and growth. Just as hand-made items lost favor in the midst of the machine age from the 1940s through 60s, only to become highly valued and expensive in the 1980s, work will also be regarded as a highly valued privilege and opportunity. People may even begin paying for the opportunity to work, just as vacationers now pay for the privilege of participating in archaeological digs.

**Our world really is becoming gentler and kinder, as power continues to move from muscular to mental and emotional resource-based. The real power in the world today is in the ability to negotiate most effectively, to convince through communication and negotiation. Anger and other negative emotions are being replaced by more subtle abilities like reason and empathy to motivate people towards, not away from, new ideas and actions.

** Foods and dietary supplements to enhance the endorphin balance in the body will be developed. We'll be learning more about the body-wide circulating brain/mind system Candace Pert has theorized. Neuropeptide research will lead to identification of specific neuropeptide brain hormones associated with different varieties of positive experience. New drugs and perhaps self regulatory techniques and diets and surgeries will be developed that interact with the newly discovered neuro-peptides to help to enhance and improve mental, emotional and physical functioning.

** We are already doing primitive psychophysiological stress profiles that identify which physiological systems-- respiration, muscles, mental activity, cardiovascular, -- people respond with when they are stressed. We're working right now on developing biopsychometric assessment computer systems which work like psychological tests, except your body gives an answer as well as your conscious selection of answer true, false or a.,b.,c., or d. Psychophysiologist John Cacioppo is studying facial muscle "ballistics," measuring high speed changes in facial muscles to identify muscle wave patterns associated with different emotional states. At some point we'll be able to use biochemical, magnetic, and other energy field brain and body imaging technologies to identify bio-patterns associated with varieties of positive experience and peak performance as well as negative states. We'll be able to identify the flicker cycles we can use to optimize performance. Sports psychologist Dan Landers has already used biofeedback to train Olympic shooters to learn to fire between heartbeats as a way to improve their scores.

** Computerized pattern biofeedback will help people produce maximum performance and efficiency patterns like bio-emotional macros. As you operate a computer, for example, it will monitor your psychophysiology and change the colors, size or design of the graphics or background or letters on the display screen to reflect and enhance your efficiency and to maximize your attention, creativity, retention and overall performance.

As we identify patterns associated with strong positive feelings, emotional pattern biofeedback and other technologies will enable trained people to turn on feelings they never had before. Researchers will record and feed back the thrill experienced by an Oscar winner or a parent watching his child perform on stage for the first time just as top pros' movement templates for great golf or tennis swings are now recorded on video and fed back for visual imagery. Film and music producers will refine sound tracks and subliminal audio or visual effects to build stronger suspense and fear, or warm and happy feelings, or laughter-activating backgrounds into their movies and recorded music.

** We already have electrical, magnetic, optical, acoustic and subliminal brain stimulation devices available in electronic and audio-visual form, designed to evoke specific response patterns for pleasure, pain relief, deep relaxation, muscle strength and altered states. In time, muscle stimulation may be placed on the face to produce strong smiles or expressions of intense concentration automatically, faces that activate real emotional states. Or they might be used to block muscle tension as an aid in relaxation or pain relief. Special fluorescent lights that have an antidepressant effect have already been marketed for psychiatrists to prescribe at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association. The future may bring us computer controlled lighting systems that change the light wavelength patterns throughout the day and the seasons to maximize our positive psychological responses as defined by brief computerized biopsychometric tune-up tests we complete as part of our daily routine.

Future Feelings in Business and Work

**Corporations and government agencies will introduce programs designed to increase employee satisfaction and to make work more meaningful. They'll promote research to identify the emotional aspects of each job--so trainers can teach employees to maximize the good parts and minimize and cope with the undesirable ones.

** Trainers will help sales and customer contact people learn to use whole body smiling skills to communicate more effectively with customers and to understand the customers' non-verbal messages better. Knowing how to identify the key positive experience factors in successful sales and customer relations will help personnel achieve higher performance goals.

** As the Baby Boomer generation places less emphasis on big bucks, power and traditional business ''perks,'' companies will be forced to identify new ''rewards'' to motivate employees-- on-site fitness centers, uplift rather than coffee-breaks, positive experiences systematically added to each day. Corporate positive experience banking will yield assets that will be capitalized in company newsletters for staff and clients.

** Marketing approaches that use heartwarming and other positive experience images to motivate consumers will use even more sentimental material aimed at pulling the heart strings in ever more sophisticated and orchestrated in ever more sophisticated ways. Books and movies will build dozens of layers of positive experience resonating and heart string plucking complexity into appropriate scenes. A good example is the last scene in the nostalgic baseball movie, The Natural, in which Robert Redford's character risks his life to hit a home run. The scene piles on at least 15 different ingredients that are intended to multiply and intensify the emotional response of the audience. It works beautifully, part of the reason the film was such a hit.

** Researchers have begun to do cross-cultural studies of positive experience to identify universal factors. This will help lower cultural barriers by allowing us to make the most of our emotional similarities and interests.

** The approaches applied to business can also be applied to international peace efforts. Positive experiences can be systematically shared between countries to build emotional, heart-level bonds. Besides lowering trade barriers and arms and munitions counts, countries can raise emotional connections. They can start hundreds of thousands of children sharing pen-pals, providing family pictures so each country's human side is more effectively communicated. Advertisements, news releases and documentaries could show more of the heartwarming sides of each country. Perhaps some of the military and propaganda budgets could also be funneled into building the heart-lines between countries.

**Enhanced immune functioning training will become more sophisticated and powerful as researchers learn more about the connections between our mind and our body and our ability to resist disease and heal ourselves. Just as the ancient use of leeches has been revived to improve blood circulation after finger re-implantation microsurgery, the thousands of years old technique of diaphragmatic breathing will be brought into the modern treatment of cancer and as an aid to wound healing.

** Electronic emotional pacemakers will be offered to prisoners with problems controlling their tempers to control their emotional nervous system, perhaps even as an alternative to jail. They may also be offered micro-surgical or chemical removal, modification or transplantation of their emotional part of their brain to fix abnormal anatomy. The same kinds of drugs, pacemakers and surgeries may also be applied to depressed and alexithymic patients too.

**Just as today's historians explore the history of war, science, politics and technology, future historians will re-create important emotional experiences from a systematized psycho-historical perspective. This study will shed new light on the causes of major events of the past and help predict those yet to occur. Novelists like James Michener and Umberto Eco have begun the groundwork.

** Collections of positive experience memories will help researchers to understand our society and other cultures throughout the world, helping us to share our emotional and material resources to everyone's advantage. People will learn new paths to happiness as lists of special pleasures and accomplishment satisfactions are shared in public forums, like newspaper columns and magazine articles. Special interest publications will create sections for positive experiences just as they have tips today on home maintenance, gardening and sewing.

Hobbies and continuing education will soar in popularity, As more people continue to work beyond their 70s, retirement will be replaced by training in new directions.

** Christmas and New Years are times when we tend to connect more and open our hearts more to each other. Recently, special events like Hands Across America, the re-opening of the Statue of Liberty, the song release-- We Are The World have all produced special good feelings in huge masses of people. We need to study these and learn how to make macro-events like them happen regularly, building world-wide moments or days or weeks when the earth becomes a heart connected single organism, raising the emotional warmth of us all, cooling hostilities, letting go of differences at least temporarily.

As the study of the dimensions of happiness and the varieties of positive experience becomes accepted as a valuable, productive scientific endeavor, more of the world's resources will be directed its way. Just as the budget for outer space research and exploration is also a budget that funds our dreams and visions of new frontiers, positive experience research will yield short term fruit and expand the horizons of our dreams.

The possibilities are limitless. I am convinced that the scientific quest for improving our happiness resources will achieve priority status within this generation. We can all expect to learn safe, natural, drug-free techniques for making prolonged misery a thing of the past. This field of study's goal is the exploration, mapping and extension of the frontiers of our mental, physical and spiritual evolution. Each of us has the opportunity every day to achieve our own personal maximum potential. Use every tool and all the information you can to make it happen for you today. Then share your bounty.