My 15 year old daughter is always asking me if I am excited about things that are coming up. Even though I am usually looking forward to whatever it is that she is asking about, I can never quite bring myself to say that I am excited about it.
Excited is a strong word and I find it hard to muster enough energy for that kind of strong emotion when thinking about going to the movies, or out for dinner, or going on a trip.
My daughter seems to have no trouble with it. She is always excited about something. I was attributing this to her youth until I participated in a communications workshop where they gave us a list of commonly used “affect” words to describe feeling.
The words were separated into categories of Emotion (i.e. Happiness, Fear, Anger) and Intensity (Strong, Moderate, Weak). As I was reading the different words I realized that I very rarely, if ever, use the strong words for happiness – excited, thrilled, delighted, overjoyed, ecstatic, elated, jubilated. I do use the moderate words for happiness – good and happy, but I more often use the weak words – pleased, glad, satisfied.
Okay, so again this could be an age thing – too much energy needed to get worked up about things. However, when I looked at the words for anger I realized that I have no problem using the strong words like furious and angry to describe my emotions at times. In fact I am more likely to use strong words to describe all the more negative emotions – sadness (depressed, miserable), fear (afraid, frightened, scared, overwhelmed), and uncertainty (bewildered, confused).
It’s interesting that I can muster the energy to be angry but not to be excited. Perhaps it is not an energy thing after all. Perhaps it is an age thing – or my perception of what it means to be an adult. Children get excited and delighted, mature adults get pleased and glad. However, it is quite acceptable for a mature adult to get angry and overwhelmed.
Now I’m thinking it’s time to stop being quite so mature and adult and turning the volume down on happiness. Sure, it’s okay to be pleased, glad, and satisfied sometimes, but it’s also okay to be excited, thrilled, ecstatic, elated, jubilated, overjoyed, and delighted as often as possible.