To control your emotions you have to give up the idea of control. Emotions are part of your being. They are happening all the time. If you were able to control your emotions, you would be able to stop them. You would be able to choose which emotions to have when. If that were the case, you would always choose to be happy and you would have no problems. If you want to choose to be happy, you have to be able to handle the unchosen emotions like sadness, fear, or anxiousness. It is worth trying to control these emotions, because when they are out of control, they may conspire to ruin your life.
Controlling emotions is difficult because it’s hard to tell what is an emotion and what is supposed to be controlling it. When you experience fear, it takes you over. What is supposed to be controlling the fear is consumed by it. You can’t just make it stop, because you are afraid. You are fear. When you notice that you are fear, then you are no longer fear. You are something separate, safe, and you have some control.
By paying close attention to your emotional highs and lows, you learn to see the pure emotion. The emotion is separate from you and it is separate from the thought, or story, that explains the emotion. If you are sad because your goldfish died, then you can experience sadness. The sadness is something different from you and it is something different from your goldfish dying. Eventually you will be happy and your goldfish will still be dead. That is only the current story attached to your sadness.
When you pay attention to your emotions, self, thoughts and stories, you come as close as you can to controlling emotions. Although you can’t pick when to feel what, you can put each emotion in its context, knowing that you are capable of surviving any and all emotions available to humankind. When you have learned to observe and find comfort in the difficult emotions, the easier emotion of joy will spring forth much more often, just like you wanted.