top of page

“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge." --Plato

Did you know that "...well-being depends less on objective events than on how these are perceived, dealt with, and shared with others" (Brackett, 2019)? This means our emotional experiences and interpretations are central to mental and physical health.

As the Founder and Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Marc Brackett is an advocate for children (and adults!) as we learn to become "emotion scientists." The idea being that if we can better understand the role that emotions empirically play in our lives, we can harness them to our benefit. His work encourages us to embrace the influence of our emotional lives on how we think, make decisions, and learn. Emotions are inextricably linked to cognitions in thinking, and they offer vital clues to our needs. In fact, the study of the integral nature of emotions in our lives can be traced to early teachers like Plato and Aristotle, and Darwin had a "functional view of emotion---the idea that emotions are valuable sources of information that both energize behavior and ensure survival" (Brackett, 2019; Brackett & Cipriano, 2020, p.3).

Emotions are evolutionarily wired into our experiences of and responses to life, whether we are aware of them in any given moment or not. They influence our moods and actions and according to Brackett, they impact things like how stringently teachers grade their students and who gets admitted to medical school and on which days they are accepted. Did you know that only 30-minutes of arguing with your partner confers a measurable and negative physiological impact on your immune health? Most of us know that bottling our feelings is a sure-fire way to keep them simmering (see Suffer Well), but fewer of us know how to recognize them or what to do with them when they inevitably surface.

Importantly, emotions serve as internal "rudders" that help people direct actions, thoughts, judgements, and behaviors in various parts of their lives (e.g., school, work, home; Immordino-Yang & Demasio, 2007). Consequently, they impact what we attend to and what gets remembered. It turns out that a person must have a functioning degree of both attention and memory in order to learn. This means that our emotions are also integrally involved in determining how, what, and when we learn. You are not wired to “just leave the emotion out of it!”, to make a purely “rational” decision, or to “leave the emotion outside of the boardroom” at work. Emotions are an inherent part of the human experience.

After providing historical background and explaining this important relationship in Permission to Feel, Brackett offers a framework for identifying and harnessing both positive and negative emotions, in service to your well-being. He calls it the RULER and encourages us to develop skills in each of five categories:

Recognizing emotion

Understanding emotion

Labeling emotion

Expressing emotion

Regulating emotion

The book reveals the important role emotions play in the developmental process. It also explores the implicit influence emotions have on group systems—from families and classrooms to professional work-place teams—and shares ways that RULER may be used to improve relationships and peoples’ feelings of psychological safety in different contexts.

Permission to Feel beautifully walks the line between being a science-heavy book for researchers and an approachable work for the popular press, and as Brené Brown said: “I cannot recommend Permission To Feel enough... practical, tactical, actionable. My favorite kind of book. I just loved it.”

Happy reading!

Be well.




Brackett, M. (2019). Permission to feel: Unlocking the power of emotions to help our kids,

ourselves, and our society thrive. Celadon Books.

Brackett, M., & Cipriano, C. (2020). Emotional intelligence comes of age. Cerebrum: The Dana

forum on brain science, 2020(cer-06-20), 1-9.

Immordino-Yang, M. H., & Damasio, A. (2007). We feel, therefore we learn: The relevance of

affective and social neuroscience to education. Mind, Brain, Education, 1(1), 3-10.

Related Works to Explore:

Brown. B. (2021). Atlas of the heart: Mapping meaningful connection and the language of human

experience. Random House.

Gardner, H. (2006). Multiple intelligences: New horizons (2nd ed.). Basic Books.

Goleman, D. (2020). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ (25th anniversary

ed.). Bloomsbury Publishing.

Immordino-Yang, M. H. (2015). Emotions, learning, and the brain: Exploring the educational

implications of affective neuroscience. W.W. Norton & Company.

Langer, E. J. (2016). The power of mindful learning. Merloyd Lawrence Books.

170 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page