I recently completed The Bridges of Chara (free to read if you own an Amazon tablet). It’s an allegory of how our emotions work and I found it to be extremely helpful.
The big idea is that we have all these negative emotions (represented as islands) which are a part of life and need to be dealt with. But as we engage with them, it’s easy to get stuck on them and fail to return to a place of joy. The ideal emotional life is one in which joy is your base of operations and you use the strength it gives you to build bridges to anger, sadness, shame, disgust, fear, and hopeless despair. But upon arriving, you always return back to a place of joy. Thriving is defined, in part, by learning how to continually take these journeys back and forth and never getting stuck on any one “island” for too long.
Here’s a quick sketch I did to represent it:
Of course, the book goes into greater detail and this flyby doesn’t really do it justice. But I think you get the idea.
What I found so helpful about this book was how it validated the importance of feeling my negative emotions. It’s easy for me to forget that and believe that the ideal is to be in a state of constant joy (and then, ironically, feel guilty when I’m not). It reminded me a bit of Inside Out in that regard.
Is joy your base of operations? Do you regularly visit the negative emotions as appropriate? Have you gotten stuck on any of the islands? Check out The Bridges of Chara for more.
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