Of all the elements, behavior is probably the simplest. Behavior includes the obvious — your gross movements like moving around, eating, sleeping, running, and what you observe of others.
Behavior in the Model also includes communication, which includes talking and writing, as well as nonverbal communication like facial expressions, posture, vocal tonality, and so on. Emotions motivate this communication as much as any other behavior. Likewise, your or anyone else’s nonverbal communication can reveal as much about your or their emotional state as anything else, an effective tool to raise your self-awareness and emotional intelligence.
Just as subtle or mild emotions are still emotions, subtle or mild behavior is still behavior. The Model treats sitting still or resting as behavior because emotions motivate it and it interacts with your environment. Someone calm motivates others to behave differently than someone excited. In stressful times, you often benefit from behaving calmly. People who think decisive action always requires bold or dramatic emotions and behavior may miss how experienced calmness can often most effectively lead teams or relationships through challenges.
The Model also treats mental activity as behavior, even when others can’t observe it directly. For example, reading a mystery thriller will create different mental activity than reading a how-to book, even if people watching the reader don’t see an immediate difference. That mental activity triggers other emotional cycles, which are part of your emotional system’s environment.
Your choices of behavior — what you know or believe what you can and can’t do or will or won’t do — affects what emotions your emotional system will conjure up. This point illustrates a simplification of the Model: I treat behavior and belief as separate to help communicate the Model and to make it easier to understand. As you use the Model and make your own, you’ll probably make it richer, more complex, and more helpful for yourself.
Tomorrow: more on the Model’s elements in more depth: reward.