If you have ever bungie jumped for the 1st time, perhaps you decided to do so, with some subtle emotion influencing your decision to do so. In my case, I don’t recall having any strong emotion influencing me to do the jump. In fact, the strongest emotion that I recall is fear in just considering it, and the emotion approached what I would call terror when I was on the precipice. I jumped only because I had decided to do so, in advance, and was able to countermand or over-ride the extraordinary emotional desire to not jump. At the moment that I jumped, I recall experiencing intense fear and no other emotion. (Fortunately, for me the fear left the moment after I jumped).
We tend to view fear as a negative emotion. But it’s not all negative. Many, if not most of us, actually enjoy being scared. That’s why bungee jumping exists, along with thrill rides, horror movies, and ex-wives. (Sorry about that one! ) It’s a rush. I’ve never bungee jumped but I like coasters. The first time I rode the Diamondback at King’s Island, I nearly crapped in my pants. The first drop is about 200 feet at 80 m.p.h. at what seems like 90 degrees, and it is configured such that every seat is like being at the front and there is no traditional shoulder harness—just a handle at your lap to hold onto. So when I started down the first drop, my lizard brain was convinced we were free falling—that’s exactly what it is designed to make one feel. I remember thinking, “Okay, I am now officially too old for this shit. If I survive, I will never again ride a coaster like this.” You know what I did right after I got off? Yep—I got right back in line.
What’s my point? I’m not sure, but I think emotions drive what we do more than you are crediting them. And a lot more than I used to think.
Again, I am not suggesting that emotions don’t often have a profound effect on what we do. What I have primarily been responding to is the assertiion that “Our feelings, emotions or desires are the only source of motivation that humans (and animals) have without a god.” I think that this is an overstatement re: emotions.
Also, some behaviors that one does while experiencing fear, can result in an adrenaline rush, which can also reinforce the behavior that triggers the adrenaline rush. Thus one is more likely to do the behavior again.
Another thing is that when someone is experiencing fear, they are also typically motivated to do avoidance or escape behaviors. Successfully escaping or avoiding an aversive situation can reinforce the behavior that resulted in the escape or avoidance. (Thus one can learn to do that escape/avoidance behavior subsequently in a similar situation whether one, then, eventually, feels fear or not.)