Sentiment: Where thoughts and emotions intertwine.
Have you ever been told you’re “being sentimental”? What emotions were you feeling at that point in time? Sentiment is one of those words you can feel in your bones. It’s a visceral, complex feeling that marries memories and feelings in a tangible way that’s truly magical.
It’s time to champion and celebrate sentiment. It makes life bigger and fuller. People who embrace sentiment are highly-conscious people. We sense everything and pay attention to everyone. We are constantly noticing the subtle differences in life, whether it’s the slight tinge of the blue sky or the way the light reflects off the grass in the morning.
When we embrace sentiment we’re opening ourselves up to the opportunity to experience it all.
To make some sense of it all, we define; we place borders around these sensory experiences (the sounds, smells, tastes, touches, looks of life), we give them names, and we catalog these experiences as memories. But are our memories just a collection of facts? Hardly. We’re less objective than we like to think, especially in what we remember.
As life unfolds, looking for patterns and reasons, for causes and effects, and trying to figure out why things happened the way they did. Our brains are on a mission to get it, to understand, to find the meaning.
Motherhood is a lifelong struggle of a desire for sentiment and a reflection on the fear of too much sentiment, of veering into sentimentality without falling into an excess of sentimentality. Because there is a difference between sentiment and sentimentality.
Sentiment is thoughts supported by true emotions—love, anger, attachment, affection. These emotions derive from experience, and they can't be faked. And when you know things, the choices you make get more complex. The realities you live in get grayer.
But in moments of pure contentment, of unbridled appreciation, we often find ourselves looking back on our life and realizing the continuity of it all, the connections of each experience and how each moment led to this current moment.
In those realizations, we experience our own unsolicited rush of a different emotion, a feeling of affection for life, a feeling of appreciation for the goods and the bads, and a sensation of peace.
Sentiment can ache in both good ways and bad ways, but either way, we can find objectivity in it. Excavate memories by letting yourself free-write about a lovely time in your past. Start with a vivid memory, then expand on it by reflecting on who you were with, what the weather was like, what clothes you were wearing, the food you were eating—that can help pull up other memories from that time. Now, draw a circle around any emotive words you listed within your memory. How can you invoke those feelings on a daily basis or recreate situations that embody those emotions?