Posted by Michael Dickens on November 5, 2010
As children, we learned that happy and sad are the primary emotions, and that they are opposites.
If I were to take a little while to consider the different negative emotions, I would come up with about three: fear, stress, and humiliation. There are two others which I might call negative, but they can be enjoyable from time to time: sadness and anger. Of these, I would say that fear is definitely the most common, not sadness. Also, it seems to me that fear is a much worse feeling than sadness. Some sorts of sadness, like loneliness or depression, are pretty much universally unpleasant. But other types of sadness, such as nostalgia, are not all bad.
Consider the opposites of each of these negative emotions.
You probably noticed that both confidence and acceptance appear twice. This shows that emotions don’t always have a clear opposite. It doesn’t make sense to say that happiness and sadness are opposites, nor does it make sense to classify sadness as the primary negative emotion.