It has been a long-held belief that most human emotions fall within six universally accepted categories. These are happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear and disgust. But a new study from the Greater Good Science Center now suggests that there are at least 27 distinct emotions, and they are all intimately connected to one another.

The study found that “there are smooth gradients of emotion between, say, awe and peacefulness, horror and sadness, and amusement and adoration.” All said, this new research reveals that emotional experiences are fuller and more nuanced than previously thought. The lead researcher, Alan Cowen, concluded, “We shed light on the full palette of emotions that color our inner world.”

Emotions. Such a touchy feely subject. Yet one that pervades our space each and every day as we interact with the humans around us. For some of us, we said “I do” to our spouse a number of years ago. Little did we imagine that those spectrum of emotions would entangle the marriage relationship for years to come. Some for the good, some not. Yet, you made a commitment, and you try your best to honor it well.

Some have had children. The full palette of all 27 emotions can rear their head in a toddler before lunch! Yet, these young children need us to smooth out their highs and lows, to help them understand that not getting what they want at that very moment is actually best for them. We seek to love and guide and parent our kids the best we know how…all the while not letting our own emotions get in the way of helping them on their path.

Then, there’s your job. And in most jobs, you have office mates. And if you have office mates, you have interpersonal connections that can spike both positive and negative emotions. There are over-talkers and anti-socials and messy desk-ers and neat freaks and rugged individualists and collaborators. All these differences can often lead to either teamwork or conflict. Sometimes all in the same meeting.

At our firm, we utilize a business system known as EOS which stands for the Entrepreneurial Operating System. All computers run on an operating system, like Windows or iOS. And a business should too. One of the key components of EOS is what’s known as IDS-ing. (I know, I know. So many acronyms!).




We Identify an issue, we Discuss it amongst the team and/or department, then we Solve it. Done. Finished. Move on. Sometimes, we IDS an issue in 10 minutes. Sometimes over an hour. Sometimes, we table it and pick it back up the following week. But we’ve found that we’re able to air all our laundry on the issue, spill out all our emotion, and ultimately solve it. Once solved, it’s done. No more emoting over it. We’re a team, and we live by the decision.

I’ve often thought this IDS process could work in a family setting too. Granted, kids likely aren’t mature enough to accept the outcome of a decision if it didn’t go their way, but it might be worth a try. How about a marriage? Could two people benefit from discussing identifying the issue, discussing it, and solving it for good? I think so.

In the end, the palette of emotions is diverse and beautiful. It’s what makes us human! Granted, the animal kingdom displays some of these emotions, but not to the extent or full count of all the ones that we humans do. God made us capable of expressing, and dealing with, each of these emotions. Sometimes, sadness is just too much for us to handle on our own, so we get help. Sometimes, our excitement is too much for us to contain, so we share it with others.

Either way, we’re all in this together. You were made on purpose, for a purpose. Your emotions count. You matter. Express your emotions without fear of what others might think. It’s ok to not be ok. But it’s not ok to stay that way.

May you seek to journey alongside someone else as you sort through your emotions and live a productive and fulfilling life.

The best is ahead!


[Author’s Note: If you’re interested in the full list of all 27 emotions, check out this article on Forbes.]