The “supply chain” essentially refers to the movement of goods from raw materials to end-users. The supply chain generally involves a network of producers of raw materials, component suppliers, transporters, manufacturers, packagers, vendors, distributors, storage facilities, wholesalers, retailers and customers.
The three main components of a supply chain are generally: (1) Supply, (2) Manufacturing, and (3) Distribution. The activities close to the Supply (e.g., raw material and commodities largely coming from China, South America and Africa) are known as upstream activities. Activities between Manufacturing (e.g., China, E.U., U.S., Japan and India) and Distribution to the end consumer (e.g., U.S., E.U., China, Japan, U.K.) are downstream activities.
We are currently seeing significant supply chain disruptions and industry shutdowns around the world due to COVID-19. The COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions have had a dilatory effect on businesses worldwide. Now that the pandemic case numbers and deaths are declining, demand for consumer goods is increasing. The fragility of the supply chain and its inability to rapidly recover from COVID-19 is evidenced by the worldwide supply chain shutdowns and bottlenecks. Manufacturers and transport companies are suffering from such things as a shortage of workers, higher fuel costs, inability to obtain raw goods, customs delays, border controls and mobility restrictions.
Governments and economists are forecasting shortages, supply chain bottlenecks and inflation in industries including energy, equipment, computers, telecommunication devices, automobiles, groceries, home goods, medicine and construction starting Q4 2021 and lasting through 2022.[i]
At the time of this article, there are about 7.8 billion people on Earth, and worldwide there have been approximately 242 million COVID-19 cases (3% of the population) and 4.9 million deaths (.06% of the population). About 50% of the COVID cases are asymptomatic, 49.6% are mild to moderate, and .4% are serious or critical.[ii] Not to minimize the severity of COVID-19, but imagine what would happen to the supply chain and our ability to get water, food, household items, utilities, fuel, materials and manufactured goods in the face of an even more virulent pandemic or a bio-weapon attack. Now add a few climate disasters to the equation, and very quickly, we could see an immense supply chain shutdown, causing mass hunger, dehydration, illness, and death, not to mention massive inflation and economic collapse.
While the supply chain seems efficient because, up until recently, we could easily purchase goods at our grocer, restaurant, big-box store or Amazon, COVID-19 has raised our awareness of the fragility and inefficiency of the supply chain. However, the fragility, inefficiency and toxicity of the centralized supply chain existed before COVID-19 due to factors including the following:
(1) The supply chain relies heavily on increasingly depleting supplies of raw goods from extractive materials (e.g., minerals, oil, metals) and agricultural products (e.g., animal products, cotton, hemp, timber);
(2) The method by which the raw materials are extracted and generated often utilize ecologically damaging practices that reduce the ability of the planet to provide the resources required to meet our consumptive demands;
(3) The use of fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gasses and toxic pollutants for the transportation, manufacturing, processing and packaging utilized by the supply chain is contributing to climate change and the degradation of the quality of our air, water and food;
(4) The supply chain typically requires shipping raw goods long distances from suppliers to manufacturers, and then require shipping finished goods long distances to distribution centers, retailers and consumers;
(5) Each facility (e.g., manufacturing facilities, distribution facilities, retail stores) in the supply chain required energy and materials to build the facility and require significant amounts of energy, generally in the form of fossil fuels;
(6) The finished products frequently require packaging utilizing paper and/or plastic, which end up in landfills and the oceans;
(7) In order to get my goods, I either need to drive in my automobile (typically burning fossil fuel) to the store or have it delivered by a shipping courier such as FedEx, UPS and DHL (typically burning fossil fuel);
It is actually the inefficiencies of the supply chain that create massive profits for oil companies, transportation manufacturers, shipping and logistics companies, packaging companies, the construction industry, equipment manufacturers and retailers. While these inefficiencies give numerous industries significant revenues, these industries are largely responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, waste, climate change, and destruction of Earth’s ecosystems.
We have the technologies to give clean water, nutritious food and renewable energy to the world. We possess the ability to grow bananas on the North Pole, harvest potable water from the atmosphere and desalinate seawater. We can power the world through natural and renewable energy sources (e.g., hydrogen, solar, wind, hydro, tidal, biomass). We have the ability to bio-energetically regenerate soil and purify water, grow food hydroponically in vertical urban towers, and regeneratively cultivate an abundance of seafood, sea vegetables and materials from the ocean. We have the ability to ship food, water, materials and supplies to anywhere in the world and alleviate hunger, suffering and death worldwide. We can convert waste streams into new materials and energy. However, we haven’t engaged in deploying these technologies and life-affirming activities in a truly meaningful way largely because the energy costs are generally too high and doing so is not profitable.
Another issue has slowed the adoption of clean and renewable energy and activities that can alleviate world poverty, hunger, and suffering. The governments around the world, who write and enforce regulations have been infiltrated by incumbent industries such as banking, oil, auto, utilities (e.g., electricity, gas and water), construction (e.g., lumber, concrete, steel, glass) and commercial agriculture. These industries have been responsible for sponsoring legislation to impede or prevent innovative progress in energy, materials, construction, transportation, supply chain efficiency, and local self-sufficiency for water, food, energy and materials. Moreover, governments generate significant revenues from the supply chain, including income tax, import-export tariffs, sales tax, utility tax, and excise taxes collected on fossil fuels. For example, the U.S. generates an estimated $36.4B annually from federal fuel taxes[iii], and California generates more than $26.4B billion in state and local tax revenues and $28.5 billion in sales and excise taxes from fossil fuels.[iv]
The U.S. energy generation portfolio by source is 60.3% from fossil fuels, 19.7% from nuclear, 19.8% from renewables, .1% from pumped hydropower, and .3% from other sources.[v] Thus, the vast majority of energy in the U.S. (80%) is from fossil fuels and nuclear sources. With the billions of dollars spent on lobbying by the oil industry and the taxes collected at the pump, governments have been loath to kill the “greasy golden goose.”
With the growth of both population and consumption, we are seeing increasing demand for energy, food, products and services while concurrently seeing a diminution of potable water and arable land. As well, human activities, including burning fossil fuels and deforestation for commercial agriculture, timber and cattle ranching, have contributed to high levels of CO2 and greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere, which the scientific community attributes to climate change.[vi]
In addition to many other transformational societal shifts that must be addressed, there are three fundamental shifts in our society that will have a material impact on improving the quality of life and creating a thriving world for future generations: (1) clean, renewable, affordable, accessible and reliable energy, (2) supply chain disintermediation through localization and regenerative communities, (3) reduced consumption, (4) creating durable goods and building a sharing economy based upon collaborative consumption, and (5) innovation leading to supply chain efficiency, security and decentralization.
With our ever-increasing appetite for the newest, shiniest, most fashionable objects, a significant amount of what we purchase ends up in the waste stream. Rather than consumers demanding durable and built-to-last products, we tend to want cheap and fashionable products and therefore promote the manufacturing of products with short life spans and built-in obsolescence.
Maybe the silver-lining of COVID-19 is that more people are waking up and realizing that the less we depend upon government, central supply-chain and central banking, the more empowered, self-sufficient and happier we become. Many people are now realizing the dysfunction of modern society with such things as destruction of the planet’s ecosystems, contamination of our air, water, and food, increasing climate disasters, food shortages, financial inequality, war, and the desire for never-ending economic growth. More people are moving out of large cities and into rural areas, seeking agriculture-based regenerative communities and learning to live simpler, more fulfilling lives.
According to The Hill article entitled Rural America booms as young workers leave the cities behind[vii],
The net rate of arrivals and departures for major cities is devastating. New York, which lost 4 percent of its population over the last year, has watched about five people leaving for every four people arriving. San Francisco has seen 20 percent more people leaving than arriving, as Seattle and Boston each had about 10 percent more people leaving than arriving.
Rentals and purchases of rural property are reaching new records. Areas within a half day drive of major metropolitan regions are growing. Among the top destinations in the last year are the town of Stowe in Vermont and also Maine for those leaving Boston, Summit County in Colorado for those leaving Denver, the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia for those leaving the Washington beltway, and a number of sites in upstate New York for those leaving Manhattan. In places such as Delaware County, located two hours north of New York, home sales have skyrocketed 40 percent.
Fundamental shifts required to increase supply chain efficiency and reduce reliance on fossil fuels, transport, packaging, distribution, and military spending associated with the supply chain, include (1) Localization and Regenerative Communities, (2) Collaborative Consumption, (3) Planned Durability, and (4) Clean Energy and Technological Innovation.
1. Localization and Regenerative Communities: By planning and developing our cities and communities in a way that localize the production and availability of water, food, energy, materials and goods, we can lower our dependence upon a centralized supply chain and many of the environmentally destructive ramifications of the supply chain, including greenhouse gasses and pollution. By applying regenerative planning, design and applications to our cities and communities, we can nurture and promote the Earth’s abilities to provide us with an abundant and regenerative supply of water, food, energy and materials.
In the context used herein, localization refers to urban and community planning that provides for a mix of residential, commercial, retail, industrial, social and agricultural uses within distances that are walkable (no more than 1 mile) or bikeable (no more than 5 miles). For example, if we go into our backyard and pull an apple off the tree, it’s efficient, healthy and fresh. We didn’t need any trucks, warehouses, packaging or grocery stores. We also didn’t need a military to protect the oil pipeline and we didn’t need our cars to go to the grocery store. Moreover, the environmental impact and carbon footprint were minimal.
Many of our cities and communities have been intentionally planned to promote the centralized supply chain, vehicle manufacturing and burning fossil fuels as primary energy sources. By developing new cities and communities and redeveloping/retrofitting existing cities and communities into, regenerative, walkable, mixed-use communities, with their own water, farms, clean energy generation, waste upcycling systems, materials and goods production (including 3-D printing), we can create cities and communities that promote a higher quality-of-life and are more vibrant, beautiful, efficient, economically abundant and healthier.
2. Collaborative Consumption: There has been a rapid explosion in sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting, and swapping reinvented through network technologies on a scale and in ways never possible before. Sharing, utilizing, giving away and/or selling under-utilized resources such as homes, cars, offices, sporting goods, clothing, furniture, jewelry tools, health clubs and machine shops has created numerous multibillion-dollar enterprises (e.g., Uber, Airbnb, eBay, WeWork). “Collaborative Consumption” and the “Sharing Economy” are disrupting outdated modes of business and reinventing not just what we consume but how we consume.
According to Havas Group, “Unhappy with the results of decades of overconsumption, many people around the world are searching for a better way of living and consuming. A large majority of those surveyed in 29 markets believe that overconsumption is actually putting our planet and society at risk. Most say they could happily live without most of the items they own and that they make it a point to rid themselves of unneeded possessions at least once a year. We have entered an age when sharing, rather than buying, everything from cars and vacation homes to textbooks and pets has become socially acceptable among those who realize we have exhausted the planet and ourselves with way too much stuff and responsibility.”[viii]
Collaborative Consumption and the Sharing Economy provide greater freedom and flexibility as well as a higher quality of life, with more options and amenities, without the burdens and expense of sole ownership. In our society, we generally share public infrastructure and services such as beaches, parks, roads, schools, police, fire, sewer systems, courts, public transportation, waste management and telecommunications infrastructure. It is also fairly common to share health clubs, restaurants, entertainment venues, hotels and community amenities. By increasing our sharing, building regenerative communities, and localizing resources (e.g., facilities, community farm, community kitchen, cars, tools and equipment), we can significantly reduce the expense and environmental impact related to exclusive ownership and enjoy higher quality lives with improved health, greater freedom, more amenities, lower cost and less stress.
3. Planned Durability: Almost every manufacturer in the world today designs their products to have an artificially limited useful life whereby the product becomes no longer functional or fashionable. This design and manufacturing strategy is known as “Planned Obsolescence.” Examples include (a) Apple and Samsung being accused of providing software updates that inhibit the performance of their older smartphones;[ix] (b) The “Phoebus cartel (consisting of GE, Philips, Osram and AEI) that colluded to reduce a light bulb’s lifetime to 1,000 hours when Edison’s first commercial bulb from 1881 lasted 1,500 hours,[x] © General Motors utilized annual redesign of its automobiles to drive the demand for the newer and more fashionable automobiles, and (d) short-lived and/or disposable products such as plastic forks, paper plates, plastic water bottles, unfillable ink cartridges, nylons, cheap clothes and fashion. We have been conditioned to link our identity and value to products. This conditioning has created a world of wasteful consumers who want the latest, newest, most fashionable and shiny objects. Aside from products becoming unfashionable, we have come to expect the products we purchase will have a limited lifetime of usefulness. Often these products are designed and built to fail sooner or become unfashionable. Planned obsolescence is good for manufacturers and sellers of goods and their investors but creates massive waste and is not in the best interests of consumers or the planet.
On the other hand, “Planned Durability” or “Built to Last” is better for both consumers and the planet. By designing and manufacturing products that are built last and will remain fashionable, we, as a species, can enjoy high-quality modern-day products and conveniences with reduced expense, waste and environmental impact. Moreover, by reusing products; designing products using recycled materials and parts; reducing packaging; and digitizing products (e.g., books, music, videos, games), we can significantly improve supply chain efficiency, minimize waste, and reduce greenhouse gasses and environmental impact.
4. Clean Energy and Technology Innovation: Examples of innovation that will transform the supply chain include the following:
· Clean Energy. Energy is the gating factor for quality of life in modern society. Energy is needed for such things as getting food from the farm to our table; pumping water to our homes, farms and businesses; keeping our lights on; handling waste; transportation and shipping; manufacturing and processing of materials and goods; and powering our computers, phones and other electronic devices, to name a few. Without energy, modern society virtually shuts down. While we get great benefits and convenience from energy, we urgently need to transform our energy portfolio from dirty energy sources to clean and renewable energy sources.
“Almost every way we make electricity today, except for the emerging renewables and nuclear, puts out CO2. And so, what we’re going to have to do at a global scale, is create a new system. And so, we need energy miracles.” ~Bill Gates
It is clear that we need to transform our energy portfolio from greenhouse gas producing fossil fuels (e.g., coal, oil, natural gas) and radioactive waste generating nuclear energy sources to clean, non-destructive, renewable sources of fuel and power, such as hydrogen, solar, wind, hydro, tidal, geothermal, biomass, biofuels, waste-to-energy, and microbial fuel cells (“Clean Energy Sources”).
While nuclear energy is becoming more expensive, most of the Clean Energy sources mentioned above are becoming more efficient, durable and less costly. According to a 2019 report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (“IRENA), unsubsidized renewable energy is frequently the cheapest source of energy generation.[xi] According to the report:
“Costs from all commercially available renewable power generation technologies declined in 2018. The global weighted-average cost of electricity declined 26% year-on-year for concentrated solar power (CSP), followed by bioenergy (-14%), solar photovoltaic (P.V.) and onshore wind (both -13%), hydropower (-12%), geothermal and offshore wind (both -1%), the report finds.”
While the consumption of fossil fuels has decreased from 1970 as a percentage of energy used, fossils fuels still account for almost 80% of the world’s energy source.[xii] According to Stanford University’s Professor Mark Z. Jacobson, a goal of 100 percent renewable energy is achievable by 2050 without the need for radically new technology. There is hope that by 2050, our world can be running on Clean Energy. However, achieving this goal will require trillions of dollars in infrastructure investment. This investment can also be a tipping point into creating the Regenerative Economy.
Some renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, provide intermittent power. Solar doesn’t produce energy when the sun isn’t shining, and wind doesn’t produce energy when the wind isn’t blowing. Therefore, intermittent clean energy sources require storage to be used effectively and reliably on a 24–7 basis. Today’s batteries generally store energy using relatively expensive metals, including lithium, vanadium and cobalt. Innovations in storage include massless carbon batteries, where, the structure becomes the storage medium (e.g., the body of a car being the battery); zinc-air batteries; and Noon Energy’s ultra-low-cost batteries utilizing elements carbon and oxygen that are targeted to cost much less than current storage solutions and provide much longer durations.
Hydrogen produced from renewable sources and waste will likely become a dominant fuel source in the future. With its portability as a transportation fuel and its use as an industrial power source, hydrogen (the most abundant element in the universe) promises to deliver clean 24–7 energy with virtually no greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Forbes article Top Technologies Transforming Energy In 2021, green hydrogen is likely to take a significant lead in future energy portfolios:[xiii]
“Green hydrogen is the renewable energy source to watch in 2021, as the E.U. and many other states around the world pump investment in the burgeoning sector. It is seen as a crucial way to accelerate decarbonisation efforts, particularly for hard-to-abate sectors where electrification is not viable — eg, for heavy industry, chemicals and transportation.”
· Internet of Things (“IoT”). IoT involves the integration of technologies that allow for automation and increased efficiencies in the supply chain, our cities, communities and homes. Primarily, IoT provides us the ability to use sensors to provide data that can be used to make smarter and more efficient decisions, as well as automate processes to reduce human involvement and intervention. The foundational technologies of IoT are wireless technologies (e.g., wi-fi, cellular, Bluetooth); sensors; Internet; data analytics, storage and management; object recognition, Machine-to-Machine Learning and Communications, Global Positioning Satellites (“GPS”), Radio Frequency Identification (“RFID”), Artificial Intelligence (“A.I.”), Augmented Reality (“A.R.”) and predictive modeling, software, hardware and storage.
Some of the benefits of using IoT, include (1) conserving precious water by using sensors that determine moisture levels to turn on and off watering systems; (2) saving energy by turning off lights and reducing HVAC when no person is present; (3) creating greater energy generation and distribution efficiency by utilizing locally generated energy and distributing it on demand to where it is most needed; (4) powering autonomous driverless vehicles that safely take us to our destinations and provide efficient supply chain transportation and delivery services with motion sensors, cameras, A.I. and predictive modeling; (5) having traffic control and parking systems that change signals and guide routes based upon real-time data; (6) tracking the movement of commodities, parts, manufacturing progress, finished goods and shipments through the supply chain; and (7) providing robots instructions on tasks and monitoring their accuracy and efficiency.
The promise of IoT is that many of the robotic and mechanical activities that humans currently do can be automated and made more efficient, thereby freeing humankind to engage in higher and more inspiring activities and work.
· Robotics and Drones. Robots will contribute significantly to the efficiency of the supply chain. We often think of robots as machines that resemble humans and are capable of carrying out human movements and functions. However, robots are machines capable of carrying out complex functions from instructions programmed into a computer and can be designed to carry out certain functions better than humans. Using cameras, sensors, object learning and A.I., robots are now becoming capable of doing such things as growing, identifying and picking our foods, loading trucks, driving trucks, unloading trucks, picking, packing and shipping orders from a warehouse and delivering the order to the end purchaser. Robots will soon be able to also do a significant amount of mechanical services, customer service and tech support.
Drones are technically unmanned flying robotic aircraft. Drones can be controlled remotely by a human or given instruction through software-controlled flight plans working with integrated systems such as GPS, sensors and object recognition. Aside from Drones being used by the military, they can be used to more effectively deliver packages. For example, Amazon has unveiled a plan to use drones to more efficiently deliver packages directly to its customers.
· Blockchain. While cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum have become fairly well known, the underlying blockchain technology and its importance are less known. A blockchain is, in essence, a distributed ledger technology with a list of records (known as “blocks”) that are linked together using cryptography (encrypted security communication protocols). A blockchain is a decentralized, distributed, and public digital ledger used to record transactions across many computers so that any involved record cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks. Each block contains a hash, a timestamp and transaction data. Once recorded, the data in a block is subject to network consensus to validate the authenticity of the block and thereby ensure the block is unalterable. Because the data in the blocks are redundant, validated and decentralized, blockchain has very high security and tolerance to attack and alteration. Also, using embedded smart contracts (contracts with predefined conditions that are digitally and automatically executed by the blockchain pursuant to the instructions) can create significant efficiencies for the execution and settlement of agreements.
The impact on supply chain efficiency is that tracking status, transport, manufacturing and distribution of supplies, components and goods in the supply chain can be done much more securely and efficiently. Utilizing blockchain can create end-to-end visibility from origin to consumer and can be used to (1) bring transparency and hold companies accountable for their energy, sourcing, and their environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) policies, and (2) minimize inefficiencies, counterfeit products, theft, embezzlement, kickbacks and much of the corruption currently found in the supply chain. Additionally, blockchain can ensure transparency and security of claims and certifications, such as organic, fresh, local, and fair trade certifications. Moreover, using blockchain, the contents of international containers can be easily, securely and transparently verified to ensure greater efficiency at customs.
As mitigating climate change, carbon reduction and localization become more critical to consumers and regulators, blockchain can be used to provide indelible proof of origin, quality, claims and compliance, as well as providing a reliable local currency.
By transforming our energy portfolio to use renewable and clean energy sources; reducing our consumption; localizing our needs; designing and developing communities to be regenerative and locally self-sufficient; sharing built-to-last products; and minimizing our dependence on the existing supply chain and fossil fuels, we are likely to see a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, and a positive transformation in the health of humankind and our planet’s
[vi] Sources consulted include: NASA Global Climate Change, Scientific Consensus: Earth’s Climate is Warming, https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/https://climate.nasa.gov/causes/; https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/global-warming-faq ; https://www.nrdc.org/stories/fossil-fuels-dirty-facts; https://www.eesi.org/topics/fossil-fuels/description;
[ix] IT World, Apple and Samsung fined for planned obsolescence; https://www.itworld.com/article/3316958/apple-and-samsung-fined-for-planned-obsolescence.html
[xi] International Renewable Energy Agency, Renewable Power Generation Cost in 2018, (2019), https://www.irena.org/publications/2019/May/Renewable-power-generation-costs-in-2018
[xii] The World Bank, Fossil fuel energy consumption, https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/eg.use.comm.fo.zs?most_recent_value_desc=false
Emotions and feelings are powerful factors in our lives. They have a significant influence on our state of being, our health, our perception of the world, our relationships and how we interact with each other. Although our emotions and feelings are such a major impact on our lives, our society generally doesn’t provide much education, support and training in helping us understand and use our emotions and feelings in a way that benefits our lives and our world.
As will be discussed in greater detail below, emotions, feelings, beliefs and behaviors can be, in essence, defined as follows:
(1) “Emotions” are energy in motion generally derived from a reaction, response and relationship to one’s instinctual nature, beliefs, circumstances, and/or environment;
(2) “Feelings” are embodied emotions and energy experienced as somatic consciousness and physical states of being;
(3) “Beliefs” are attitudes or states of trust, faith or confidence that some idea or principle is true; and
(4) “Behavior” is the expression of thoughts, beliefs, emotions and feelings. Behavior can also include inaction and that which is not expressed. When behavior reaches certain levels of adoption, it becomes “Culture.” Culture creates a feedback loop that perpetuates the environment, thought, beliefs, emotions and behaviors that created it.
Feelings and emotions are often used interchangeably in our communication without much thought to their differences. By distinguishing between feelings and emotions, we can exponentially increase our emotional literacy, our cognitive abilities, our health and help our bodies from being ravaged by stress and constrictive emotions. By engaging in emotional literacy, we activate our pre-frontal cortex rather than the amygdala allowing us to intentionally and mindfully express our emotions to create the life and outcomes we desire. In my experience, those that have a deeper understanding of their emotions and feelings tend to be more evolved as humans and consistently experience more expanded and states of being that serve their ability to manifest a more loving, thriving and abundant life and world.
Emotions, feelings, beliefs and behaviors are intrinsically interconnected and catalyze one another. The resulting behaviors influenced by beliefs, emotions and feelings have a profound effect on our culture, our environment and ourselves.
Emotions are vibrational states that arise from a wide variety of stimuli, including thoughts, beliefs, events, sensations, perceptions, feelings, our environment and even other emotions. In psychology and philosophy, emotion is a subjective, conscious experience characterized primarily by psycho-physiological experiences that include mental and physical states of being leading to biological and neurological responses to stimuli. Emotions are associated and considered reciprocally influential with mood, temperament, personality, motivation and behavior. In addition, emotions are influenced by beliefs, circumstances, hormones and neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine, adrenaline, cortisol and GABA.
Alternatively, emotions can be defined as a “positive or negative experiences associated with a particular pattern of energetic and psycho-somatic activity.” When we judge our emotions as negative or positive, there’s a tendency to disconnect from, or bypass, the emotional experiences we believe are “negative.” This can result in missing the messages, lessons and growth opportunities that exist from fully experiencing our emotions and not judging them.
Because emotions are energetic at their core, emotions can be triggered from a multitude of stimuli (e.g., sensations, perceptions, thoughts, beliefs and events), with each individual having their unique subjective experiences of emotions and their triggers. The unique and subjective experience of emotions creates significant complexity in understanding emotions. It is my hope that this article can help us more fully understand our emotions, feelings beliefs and behaviors so that we can live more fulfilling lives leading to a culture of love, thriving, abundance and harmony.
The Frequencies of Emotion. Each emotion has a vibrational frequency signature that causes a resonate field which influences our state of being to expand or contract. The body resonates with the energy signature of each emotion. This has profound influence on our state of being by either expanding or contracting our energy field and somatic sensation. An expansive emotion triggers parasympathetic states of being, typically experienced as openness and relaxation, whereas a constrictive emotion causes sympathetic states often experienced as tightness and tension.
As shown in the illustration above, which provides examples of different emotions on the frequency scale. Love, bliss and empowerment are very high energy emotions that are associated with expanded states of being, whereas apathy, depression and grief are very low energy leading to contracted states of being. Emotions with an expansive resonance activate the parasympathetic nervous system resulting in the release of serotonin and the body becoming relaxed and feeling open. Emotions with both low energy and constrictive resonance can cause either a lack of energy and motivation, while emotions that are higher energy, but are still constrictive typically activate the sympathetic nervous system resulting in the release of adrenaline and cortisol readying the body for fight-or flight. For example, anger typically causes the body to become tight and constricted, but unlike apathy, anger has sufficient energy and frequency to motivate action. The energy from anger can be used to spiral the emotion of anger into more expanded emotional states such as courage, passion and love.
The energetic and vibrational frequency signature of each emotion creates a feedback loop that affects our mental, physical, energetic and emotional states of being. According to Harvard Medical School, “When someone experiences a stressful event, the amygdala, an area of the brain that contributes to emotional processing, sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus. This area of the brain functions like a command center, communicating with the rest of the body through the nervous system so that the person has the energy to fight or flee.”
Emotions often arise as a result of a belief or expectation interacting with a circumstance. For example, if I believe making money is good and losing money is bad, when I make money I may experience the emotion of happiness, and when I lose money I may experience the emotion of anger. In this example, my emotional state (e.g., happiness or anger) is conditioned upon making money. Generally, when we are in an expansive emotional state (e.g., happiness, bliss, love), we feel better than when we are in constrictive emotional states (e.g., anger, shame, grief). By conditioning our beliefs and manipulating our emotions, advertisers, marketers, corporations and governments have been able to influence our behavior and actions. When we become aware of our emotions, our emotional conditionalities, and how are emotions are being manipulated, we can gain incredible power to experience the emotions we desire rather than falling prey to the belief systems and emotional manipulation that is often used to perpetuate consumerism and disempowerment.
Emotions are wonderful teachers that make us aware of our beliefs and perception of circumstances, giving us an opportunity to change our beliefs and perceptions. When we become aware of our beliefs and perceptions, we can consciously choose our beliefs and emotions to optimize our states of being and change our experience of the world.
As a powerful energetic charge, emotions can be intentionally expressed and manifest into constructive behaviors and outcomes. One of the major challenges we face in mastering our emotions is the judgment of emotions as good or bad. We often feel guilt, denial, conflict or resistance to certain emotions we believe are “bad.” For instance, most of us would consider emotions such as anger, fear and sorrow to be bad or draining emotions. Truly, all emotions can be utilized for positive experience. For example, fear can protect us from harm, anger can drive us to create amazing change and without sorrow, joy would not be experienced as exquisitely. As well, we can experience expansive emotions more exquisitely because of the opposite constrictive emotions. For example, we experience the expansiveness of love much more deeply, because we also experience the constriction of fear.
Emotions can be suppressed, denied or limited. However, until emotions are expressed and released, they tend to build up and can cause damage to ourselves and others. Emotions can also be expressed, guided, directed and when released through conscious and healthy behavior can energize and improve our lives and the lives of others. For example, as a teenager, I often felt anger and frustration resulting from being unseen by my father and his verbal and physical abuse. I learned to play drums and often saw his face in my drum heads. I would play for hours releasing my anger and turning my anger into a wonderful and creative skill. I became a professional drummer and musician and derived a great deal of joy from playing music, as well as making a living with my music for many years.
Much like how an artist uses colors to create a painting, we can use emotions as tools to create and manifest our intention to create fulfilling lives. Just like colors, emotions are neither good nor bad — they can be blended and used to create a desired outcome.
Rather than seeing emotions as good or bad, positive or negative, higher or lower, I invite you to experience emotions as expansive or contractive. For if we fear “negative” emotions, we tend to live in fear. If we strive hard to experience only “positive” emotions, then we create stress and rigidity about negative emotions in our lives. For example, I’ve seen many people in the “Love & Light” community living in perpetual levels of fear or denial of “the darkness” or their shadow. Fear contracts and works adversely to the expansive emotion of love. By embracing and loving the “darkness,” our shadow and constrictive emotions, we can more fully experience the expansive emotional state of love. By fully embracing and presently experiencing our emotional states without judgment, rather than disconnecting, bypassing, denying or avoiding them, we gain the power of “Emotional Literacy.”
Emotions can arise from linear, parallel, independent and/or collective stimuli. Having said this, below are 6 Elements of Emotion that individually, or in combination, contribute the existence and experience of emotion:
1) Environmental-Sensory Stimulus — An outer stimulus, such as a vibration, event or object, triggers sensory signals to the brain and body.
2) Physiological Arousal — Instinctual reaction to the Environmental-Sensory Stimulus and Perceptive Awareness.
3) Perceptive Awareness — Perception of the “Environmental-Sensory Stimulus” and “Physiological Arousal” prior to “Cognitive Appraisal and Beliefs” influencing perceptive awareness.
4) Cognitive Appraisal & Beliefs — The subjective thought and interpretation of the events, objects and stimulus through the filter of mind, meaning, beliefs and conditioning.
5) Feelings — Somatic awareness and response to the stimuli of a circumstance juxtaposed on the experience of “Environmental Sensory Stimulus,” “Perceptive Awareness,” “Physiological Arousal,” and “Cognitive Appraisal & Beliefs.”
6) Expression & Motivation — Emotional energy being manifest into mental action (e.g., inspiration, creativity, will-won’t decision, withdrawal, suppression), physical action and body language (e.g., running, smiling, staring, fighting), verbal language (e.g., talking, yelling, arguing, and/or energetic action (e.g., increased/expanded or decreased/contracted energy).
Klaus Scherer, a Professor of Psychology at the Swiss Center for Affective Sciences, specializing in the psychology of emotion, developed the Component Process Model (CPM), consisting of 5 components of emotion, similar to the 6 Elements of Emotion listed above. Scherer stated that these components did not work independently of each other but were part of a collective-collaborative process. Subjective feelings influenced and were influenced by other components such as physiological arousal being driven by cognitive appraisal. 
Other leading emotional theorists have posited differing views on whether an emotion arises by itself or from an event, a physical state, cognitive appraisal or beliefs. Using the example of a rattlesnake as the event stimulus, below is a brief summary of other theories of emotion:
The foregoing, like so many scientific theories, are based upon a fairly linear and analytical framework. However, emotions, can be serial or parallel and arise in connection with numerous different stimuli The likelihood is that no one-size-fits-all linear way to experience life or an emotion, so each of the above theorists are right some of the time, partially right some of the time and wrong some of the time. For example, if I experience a purely instinctual emotion such as fear and react physically to avoid immediate harm to my body without thinking and cognitive appraisal, then Cannon and James-Lange would be correct in that circumstance. However, if I engage in cognitive appraisal, then the emotional theorists who excluded cognitive appraisal (e.g., Cannon, James-Lange), would not be correct in that situation and Lazarus and Singer-Schachter would be correct.
Instinctual Emotions and Cognitive Emotions. Joseph LeDoux, Ph.D., professor of neuroscience and psychology at New York University, posits that automatic physiological responses to danger and issues of survival are hard-wired in the brain and cognitive appraisal is irrelevant to these physical responses to threats. LeDoux argues, and I agree, that people are not born with phobias and that conscious emotions are learned through experience or programming. I also agree with Lazarus, professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, that cognitive appraisal often creates and contributes to our emotional state. Emotions can therefore be classified as Instinctual Emotions and Cognitive Emotions.
· Instinctual Emotions — Instinctual Emotions are generally associated with survival (e.g., fight, flight, food, mating) and are generated from a combination of somatic consciousness, the sympathetic nervous system and the amygdala. Instinctual Emotions arise somatically and bypass cognitive appraisal. Because the body is always in the state of present awareness, these Instinctual Emotions tend to be felt somatically in the “moment of now.” Thus, Instinctual Emotions are generally more immediate and present than Cognitive Emotions (discussed below).
Somatic theories of emotion claim that bodily responses, rather than judgments, are essential to emotions. The first modern version of somatic emotion theories came from William James in the 1880s. This theory has been supported with modern neurological evidence by theorists such as John Cacioppo, António Damásio, Joseph E. LeDoux, and Robert Zajonc.
· Cognitive Emotions — We are, according to currently accepted authority, born with only two fears: 1) the fear of falling and 2) the fear of loud noises. However, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association lists over 150 phobias. Somehow, in our society, people acquire or are programmed to develop over 150 fears. Most of the phobias listed in the DSM are cognitive.
Cognitive Emotions tend to be based in the mind rather than the natural and present Instinctual Emotions of the body. Cognitive Emotions are triggered by thought and generally involve the prefrontal cortex. Unlike the present-moment Instinctual Emotions, Cognitive Emotions are often based upon future projection, past experiences, imagination, interpretation, falsity, rationalization, manipulation, mistaken assumptions, misunderstandings and conditioned beliefs.
However, utilizing the tools of mindfulness, equanimity and inquiry, we can powerfully guide and optimize our Cognitive Emotional states to be more pure and present so as to align with our desired states of being and free ourselves from emotional manipulation and increase our emotional intelligence.
Feelings are embodied emotions and responses experienced in somatic consciousness. Because our bodies are always in a present state of awareness, our bodies often don’t differentiate between an imagined and actual occurrence. Thus, when we imagine an unpleasant circumstance we often experience associated constrictive emotions (e.g., fear, shame, guilt, anger). In response to the constrictive emotions, the body tightens and, even though the event is imagined, the mind perceives there is some emergency at the physical level. This often leads to a feedback loop that increases the intensity of the emotion affecting our thoughts, our bodies and our energy field. The intensity of the feedback loop may continue until there is a new stimulus to break the pattern of the loop. By being aware of our feedback loops, we can consciously provide new perceptions, beliefs and/or thoughts to break the pattern of unnecessary stress associated with fight-or-flight.
Conversely, when we imagine a scenario that we find pleasurable (e.g., taking a wonderful vacation, making love, fulfilling a goal), we are likely to experience expansive emotions (e.g., happiness, love, joy and bliss) that activates our parasympathetic nervous system giving the body the ability to relax, the organs to efficiently function, our bodies to heal, and our brains to be more fully engaged.
Unlike “emotions” which consist of energetic charge often resulting from thoughts, beliefs and circumstances, “feelings” are embodied somatic states of being such as hungry, sexual desire, hot, warm, cold, relaxed, tired, tense, excited, vital, strong, expanded, contracted, tingly, calm, comfortable, heavy, lite, tight, open and loose. Because our body consciousness is always in the moment of now, our pure somatic feelings are generally more real and present and less subject to rationalization, manipulation and the interpretation of the mind. The body does not care about whether you get a promotion or whether you get married to your lover or whether you make money. The body’s consciousness is largely concerned with such things as safety, preservation of life, well-being, and comfort, as well as awareness of threats to safety, life, well-being and comfort. However, the body, mind and emotional experiences are interconnected, so often the body is responding to thoughts, imagined circumstances, beliefs and emotions.
To help clarify the distinction between feelings and emotions, we often hear people say, “I feel angry.” This is typically not an accurate statement because the body does not “feel angry,” but rather the mind experiences the emotion of anger, often as a result of a belief intersecting with a circumstance (e.g., unmet expectations, feeling wronged), and the body responds to the emotional charge and vibrations in the form of somatic “feelings” that match the emotional vibration of anger. The body doesn’t “feel angry,” but may feel tight, constricted, tense or charged. A more accurate description would be, “I’m experiencing the emotion of anger which is causing my body to feel tightness and constriction.”
The vibrational response of the body is generally the activation of the sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system in a way that corresponds in intensity with the frequency and power of the emotional charge. For example, anger is an emotion with a vibration that generally causes the body to activate the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for fight or flight, which causes tension and constriction. The power or amplitude of the emotional charge determines the intensity of the body’s response (e.g., mild, moderate, and extreme).
When entering the sympathetic nervous system mode, “excitatory neurotransmitters,” such as norepinephrine, cortisol and adrenaline, flood our body and create a “fight or flight.” This process happens without cognitive thought; it’s a somatic reaction to the scenarios we create in our minds and the emotional reaction to those scenarios.
When we experience expansive emotions such as love, peace and joy, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated in resonance with the emotional frequencies and “inhibitory neurotransmitters” that are released, such as serotonin and GABA. The chemicals tend to relax, open and expand the way the body feels.
Dopamine is a dual-purpose neurotransmitter, as it can be both excitatory and inhibitory. Dopamine elevates mood, focus and motivation and is linked with the feeling of inspiration. States of inspiration and enlightenment access the whole nervous system as the body is concurrently relaxed, focused and expanded. I refer to this state of being as the “Awesympathetic” state as we are energized and activated, creative, focused and cognitively high functioning.
When the mind interprets feelings in the body, the pure and present feelings of the body generally become interpreted by the mind, which often exaggerates what is going on in the body. This creates a feedback loop where the brain picks up signals from the body, the exaggerated interpretation of the mind and the cognitive emotions created by the mind’s interpretation, thereby creating feedback loops. And round and round it goes, until there is an intervening event, pattern interruption, new stimulus, or the feedback loop runs out of energetic charge.
For example, if we imagine ourselves in a war zone, the brain is likely to create the emotion of fear, the body will become tight, tense and constricted and the brain will perpetuate the state of fear until the body relaxes. The body won’t relax until the mind is out of a state of fear. Whereas, if I imagine myself on a sunny beach in Hawaii and take some nice relaxed deep breaths, my mind becomes peaceful, my body becomes relaxed and I experience an emotional state of serenity. The feedback loops happen so rapidly that often the physical sensation and the emotional energetic feeling are completely concurrent. This is why people often confuse feelings with emotion. Using the imagination to choose the best future scenarios and outcomes can have a positive impact on bringing our bodies into the parasympathetic or Awesympathetic state of being.
To help distinguish between physiologically and cognitively created feelings, I have categorized feelings into two separate categories — 1) “Somatic-Instinctual Feelings” and 2) “Derivative-Cognitive Feelings.”
· Somatic-Instinctual Feelings arise from body experiences that result from original somatic awareness without being initiated or filtered by cognitive emotion or rational thought.
When we experience Somatic-Instinctual Feelings, the feelings emanate from the body and the body experiences the feeling in the present moment. Examples include somatic pleasure and pain such as feeling cold, hot, hungry and sexual arousal.
For instance, when we grab a hot pan, our bodies immediately and directly experience the heat and we release the pan as a protective measure to prevent us from getting burned. Because the feeling is experienced directly by the body in the present moment it is a Somatic/Instinctual Feeling.
· Derivative-Cognitive Feelings arise in response to cognitively generated thoughts and emotions and the feedback loop between the mind and body. Once the mind becomes aware of the physiological condition, it then interprets the physical stimulus coming from the body, creates meaning and a cognitive-emotional state arises which then creates a feedback loop with the body.
For example, after I picked up and dropped the hot pan, I might judge myself as being stupid for picking up the hot pan and experience the emotion of anger toward myself. Resonating with the frequency of anger, my body constricts, and I experience the Derivative-Cognitive Feeling of tightness as I enter the sympathetic nervous system state, even though the danger of getting burned by the hot pan is no longer present.
While we experience Derivative-Cognitive Feelings as real, they are often not based upon truth or actual facts. The greater the involvement and influence of our mind’s interpretation, meaning and story machine, the further away from the truth our feelings get.
If we want to have optimal health and vitality, it’s important not only to include healthy diet and exercise in our routines and practices, but also healthy thoughts, imagination and emotions that stimulate our parasympathetic or “Awesympathetic” Expanded States of Being. The parasympathetic state of being leads to relaxation, healing, rejuvenation, emergence and increased immune system functioning. The “Awesympathetic” state of being promotes flow, happiness, inspiration, motivation, achievement and fulfillment of our goals. The more we live in an Expanded State of Being, the more likely we’ll have a healthier and happier life.
It’s critical to understand and master the instruments of our emotions, feelings, beliefs and behaviors in order to powerfully align our beliefs, emotions and behaviors with our intentions for creating a healthy, thriving and harmonious life.
There is a critical distinction between fully and presently experiencing emotion and the expression of emotion as behavior. Rather than thinking, feeling and behaving like an automaton, mindlessly following societal conditioning, we can become powerful, free and sovereign beings capable of transforming our world. The greater our emotional literacy, the more we can consciously express our behavior, manifest our intentions, transform our culture and create a thriving world.
Emotional Literacy, Feelings, Beliefs and Behaviors. Emotional literacy provides great insight and mastery of our beliefs and behaviors that profoundly influence our life and the way we experience and express emotions. By fully experiencing all emotional energy, we become more aware and are able to guide the energetic charge of constrictive energy to be expressed as loving, expansive and positive behavior.
Behavior is the expression of emotion, thoughts, beliefs and feelings. Behavior is not only based upon active expression, but can be based upon inaction and indecision. When behavior reaches certain levels of adoption, it becomes “Culture.”
Culture represents the practices, beliefs, knowledge, arts, laws, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals in a group. Culture creates a feedback loop that perpetuates the environment, thought, beliefs, emotions and behaviors that created it. This explains why “culture” is often so difficult to change. To change culture requires a transformation and widespread adoption of our thoughts, beliefs, emotions and behaviors.
Our “Internal Experience” is the combination of emotions, feelings, beliefs and thoughts filtered through our perception of “reality” that we experience as a state of being” at any given moment. One of the most powerful influencers of behavior is our Internal Experience. However, behavior is also influenced by such things as beliefs, culture, values, ethics, actions and genetics. The following is an example, to help clarify the distinction between our Internal Experience and Behavior:
As I’m driving down the road, I put my signal on to change to the left lane. The car in the left lane behind me accelerates to prevent me from entering the lane. Based upon my beliefs and conditioning about being courteous, I say to myself “what a jerk — how discourteous.” I then experience the emotion of anger from my beliefs coupled with this circumstance. The energetic charge and vibration of anger causes my body to respond by secreting adrenaline and cortisol. This results in my body tensing in preparation for fight-or-flight and the blood draining from my prefrontal cortex into my amygdala. This is followed by a decrease in my IQ and rational functioning. The emotional state of anger and the decrease in my IQ coupled with the tension in body causes the Internal Experience of fight-or-flight and I’m likely to express behavior like honking my horn and giving “the jerk” a stiff middle finger. My behavior then may trigger behavior in “the jerk” that escalates into road rage. My behavior then contributes to escalating a culture of anger and road rage.
Alternatively, with the tools to shift the expression of anger into positive behavior, I could have consciously changed my Internal Experience and resulting behavior by flipping him the peace sign and smiling. I also could have said to myself, “he must be in a big hurry” or “he needs this space more than I do,” laughed and went on without expressing anger or behaving in an aggressive manner.
When we consciously experience and express our emotions, we can, for instance, turn fear into anger, anger into passion, passion into inspiration and inspiration into love, and thereby create a world of extraordinary beauty, brilliance, love and kindness from fear.
We can create the reality we desire by (1) increasing our awareness of the distinction between our emotions and feelings and that which is instinctual (e.g., real, immediate and present) and that which is cognitive (e.g., based upon imagination, beliefs, conditioning and mental constructs), (2) consciously directing our mind to imagine the most desirable outcome, (3) mindfully guiding the physical-mental-emotional feedback loops to create circumstances and environments that fulfill our highest expression and behavior, and (4) consciously utilizing the power of our imagination, emotions, feelings, beliefs and behaviors to create the world we desire to see.
By using the tools of awareness and more fully understanding our emotions, feelings, beliefs and behaviors, we can mindfully utilize our emotions as creative tools for conscious expression and behavior in alignment with our highest life-affirming potential to create amazing lives and transform our world.