Oh! Happy  — excitement, enthusiasm, jumping for joy —- over the simplest things, the littlest of wonders, a new experience, a new discovery, a new idea, a new breath, a new step….

The responses to such exuberance can include:  Have you lost your mind?  What are you so excited about?  What’s the big deal?  What’s got into you?  Slow down, there’s no point in getting excited.  You are just being silly.  It’s just a ______.  There’s no way that will work.  What are you thinking?

You quickly learn with those kinds of responses to put a damper on your enthusiasm.  You can go from that happy-go-lucky person to oh so serious.  After all serious is more acceptable, blends in better, has value.  Also, with the serious approach you can blend into the wall and not be noticed.

With the excitement of the bouncing ball, the butterfly that lands on your arm, learning how to build with legos, or how to use a squeegee.  Oh yes, that gets the happy feet going.

—– How old are you (said with raised eyebrows)? ——   It does not matter the age (unless it is under the age of about 5 – then the squeals of delight and funny stepping is still ok).  Older then that – you hear —- ssshhh, quiet; behave yourself; straighten up; be responsible.

Those little feet have a mind of their own and under the table they keep tap, tap, tapping.

With time the expression of exuberance is minimized around others.  You celebrate some when you are alone.  You carefully celebrate with a few others.  The holding in creates doubting that joy can stay or last.  You also hesitate to the feel the joy knowing the crash will follow.  Then the moments come and you forget yourself and the happy feet are dancing.  Whoops, the delight has been unbridled.

You can learn when the enthusiasm can be acceptable – children are a wonderful excuse.  Special occasions to celebrate, usually others’ birthdays, anniversaries or…. then it is ok and encouraged.  But don’t make it a habit because then you will be considered “too much”.

You walk a very thin line of normalcy or maybe sanity.  Popular trends have shouted to live your life to the fullest.  And, yet, if intensity of happy feet slips out then you have crossed the line.

It is important to find the ways, the means, the place to let those happy feet have full rein, complete freedom, be indulged, expressed and experienced.

To know the feeling of flow and the creative mode is wonderful.  To experience life with joyful delight at any moment is a gift.

Dance Dance Dance

What is your experience of getting excited?  How have others responded to you?  What gets you excited?

7 thoughts on “The Intensity of Happy

  1. Truly appreciate this one! I’ve watched my happy-go-lucky little girl, full of life, appreciative of nature, poetry and much more, slowly become a hostile sad child at times, ever since entering public school. Perhaps any school setting would’ve done that to her? I’ll never know. I’m just trying to keep her happy in such a stifling, miserable environment that, I feel, she just goes through the motions day after day and tries to remain as happy as she can. Gifted children are underappreciated by teachers, and ultimately their peers as well, especially the ones who speak up about boredom in school. They pay dearly. My only hope is that I get my little girl back someday, the one who was driven and super creative. Now, she could care less about trying half of the time. She still tries to remain her friendly self, but the miserable, unaccepting, stifling world often won’t let her. I will stay strong for her.

  2. My daughter turns incredibly giddy after crying. And I think of emotional ping pong.

    I have gotten strange looks over the years for my enthusiasm over odd things. That’s how comic types are born, right? You realize people think you are weird and you just play into it and aim for the laugh on purpose. One time I was a giddy 40 year old, but wasn’t really doing it on purpose or playing it up, was when I was at last year’s children’s writers conference. They served a chocolate dessert in the shape of a book, which I thought was so totally awesome, that I wanted to take a picture of it. I was so excited, I wouldn’t shut up about how wonderful it was. It was the perfect place to act in this way, as someone remarked that I had a childlike excitement for a dessert, which was just the kind of excitement that a children’s author should have. This made me feel good, like I was headed in the right direction career wise.

    As an English teacher, I told goofy jokes to amuse myself mostly. I was heading for an administrative job. But something kept me back from that because I couldn’t picture myself having to be so serious. I’ve done it and I am good at it, and it makes me tense and tired by the end of the day. So that is why I think pursuing a more creative career such as writing, will allow me the freedom to be silly when I feel like it, which is what keeps me happy. I married my husband because he does an excellent job of making me laugh when I am grumpy. He has a very immature sense of humor and I love it.

  3. Actually this brings up a parenting question I have been thinking about.lately. You know the literature which states that too much praise is bad for a child… that it produces praise-junky children who look for exterior affirmation. Well, I always had a problem with this idea, since being excited and enthusiastic about the ideas and accomplishments of my child is what is so great about parenthood. Keeping silent about my excitement, just for the supposed psychological health of my child, would be like cutting off my arm and would I think be inauthentic parenting. And being a fully authentic person seems important in parenting. Of course, I would have to go ahead and contradict myself there and say that of course I DO try to be inauthentically calm when I am angry…………consistency is the hobgoblin………..

  4. I am also an exuberant high intensity person. When I’m excited I jump up and down like a little kid. I embarrassed my kids one time by getting so giddy when I found out my oldest gifted son was actually getting a fabulous teacher that would understand him, that I began jumping up and down and clapping my hands saying, “yay, yay, I’m so happy we got her” . Needless to say, my son looked at me like I was from another planet! More recently, we threw a “pocket pets” party for my son. A party where a company brings adorable small animals, bunnies, guinea pigs, chinchillas, etc. for the party guests to play with. At the end of the party, all the kids were off playing and there I was, sitting in the pen, a big fat smile on my face, petting the bunnies, jokingly telling the animal keeper that I wanted a pocket pets party for my birthday. Ah the intensity of happy. If there had been other adults around I would have made fun of myself acting like a big kid. At what point did that become a bad thing? I see people like us as little blooming spots of reds and pinks and magenta on a drab white and gray background. I wonder why the drab doesn’t see my bursts of color as a welcome relief. Why doesn’t it call for more? Why does it find my intensity so annoying? Oh, and by the way, I’d have raved over the little chocolate book too.

    Sometimes, I am so dramatic in conversations that it attracts a crowd. People will come in the room and say “what happened” and I have to say, “Oh nothing, I’m just being dramatic”. My kids are always asking me when I’m on the phone, “what Mommy, what?” I just pause and say, “Oh nothing honey, I’m just being dramatic again”. Perhaps I shouldn’t qualify my enthusiasm. Perhaps I should train the next generation to appreciate a good story with enthusiasm too.

    I think exuberant happiness embarrasses the regular folk, like crying, or yelling (which I also try really hard not to do!). I used to think my enthusiasm in response to a gift they gave me, or a story they told me was appreciated, . Now a days, I’m not so sure. So, I am always trying to reign in the emotions and squish myself into a little box so I don’t make other people uncomfortable.

    I suppose I should send this off. I’ve read it and read it a million times trying to get the wording just right so as to be understood. But I guess I should give you the benefit of the doubt and know that those like minded people out there will “get” me and the rest……well, join the rest of the world in thinking I’m a bit nuts.

  5. Great post, thanks Edith. Yep, I too have had ‘the looks’ and ‘the comments’. So I’m happy… so what?! Yes, seemingly small, even trivial things can sometimes bring me the greatest happiness. Isn’t that what life’s about – paying attention, being present, feeling (and expressing) joy?! I consider the fact that I’ve somehow managed to retain a childlike sense of wonder and joy to actually be one of my greatest achievements.

    As we want our 4 year old gifted girl to do the same, we’re homeschooling her. She has so much joy, it just oozes out of her pores. At home, she can be delightfully happy and ‘silly’ and have a mummy who appreciates and mirrors those qualities right back to her.

    We were having a conversation today about how different ice-cream flavours were made. She came up with the idea that the Daddy is one flavour (ie choc-chip) and the Mummy is another flavour (ie mint) – creating choc-chip mint babies. We were both thinking up crazier and more fanciful flavours and just enjoying our ‘silly’ shared joke. I’m sure most others wouldn’t have ‘got’ her (or me for that matter) and would’ve squashed her delicious humour, creativity and general sense of fun!

  6. Thanks everyone. Excitement, happiness, “dramatic” reactions, with intensity are who we are. The awe the wonder the delight of the little things is what adds to our lives. We want our children to understand the exuberance. Yes even with my big kids now I have to say Mom is being Mom. Yes, even with the big kids we still go on adventures. My oldest son has more then one talent (naturally) and he has funneled his excitement and creating excitement in to being a street magician. An “acceptable” and yes functional way – he uses it as a tool to reach out to kids and what a delight and awe inspiring.
    We need to find the time and ways to jump for joy and be so silly (love the granddaughter – another excuse). Why I do things – some because I can and just for the fun of it. Yet at the same time I need to realize when I am clamping down and PLAN for release – pure delightful silliness.
    I like the ice cream flavor game – Rochelle; Robin the children’s author writing conference – of course you have to act out the stories. Mary – Modeling – letting ourselves be silly is important for our children ( and us!) Zannie I want a pocket pets party too – with that said I have a theme for each decade – and throw my own birthday parties – 40th was rainbows, 50th was butterflies, and I think this year my 60th will be owls – the party will have kite flying and crochet and other silly game with loud music at the park. Here’s to the Intensity of Happy!

  7. I have discovered lately that my2-e personality, visual type thinking gets a Real boost from Color and Music, and figit toys, Oh yeah! I bought them for one of my sons but I think i like them more than he does. The figit toys are also good for helping the figity to focus on Shakespeare just a little bit longer. It worked today even. No sweat, all fun Yea!! 🙂
    Oh yeah and the O.T. room in my son’s school (for an earlier age range) Was the coolest thing ever, Lights and bubbles and colors, I have to pace myself in a big Museaum of lights and colors, and noise/crowds. But room was quiet and peaceful, and just So Cool!

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