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Functional Distress

How do your emotions tell you that your environment is serving you well, or that you are satisfied? If you feel engaged, productive, interested, and do not have the urge to seek out a new environment nor the inclination to escape your present one, then your feelings are telling you that you’re in a good place.

On the other hand, if you feel sad, downhearted, and discouraged at work, or lonely, isolated, and miserable in your marriage, then your feelings are telling you that it might be time to seek out new shelter or adjust.

Distress is a fundamental emotion that has an important evolutionary function—it communicates to the self and others that all is not well, and, as such, sparks your urge to either change your habitat or leave it. People experience the urge to seek new shelter when they feel distress, whether caused by a dead-end job or a loveless marriage; distress is the motivator to find a new environment. It might appear that the urge is instigated by the incentive of something better, but, in fact, the seeking instincts are more often aroused by dissatisfaction with the status quo.

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