When we typically think about “being excited”, it’s a good thing right? If somebody where to tell you that getting excited wasn’t particularly the best way to go about anticipating something, you’d likely think they were a grumpy sourpuss that was here to devour your happiness. And your soul. If myself, Mr. Focus-On-What-You-Want-Positive-Pants, told you that “getting excited” wasn’t the best idea, you might think the Mayans were late on their prediction.
Well actually, no the world is not ending, and no I don’t want your soul… unless it’s delicious.
The truth is, I’ve been learning some far-out ideas about what excitement really means, and what’s usually behind it. I’m talking deep — like a dream inside of a dream’s dream deep. You see, when people say “I’m excited” or “this is exciting”, they often have some sort of story around it. There’s often an additional meaning or attachment to the circumstance (either conscious or unconscious), that is used to amplify the event. It’s building an expectation around it, which simultaneously creates a setup for disappointment.
What do I mean by story? Story is basically imagined or synthesized additional details surrounding a particular event/idea/etc. that gives an additional meaning behind something that doesn’t inherently have it. Simply put: a story is the fantasy we tell ourselves to give meaning to something beyond its inherent meaning (which is nothing). How you got to your current career is a story. Why you eat what you eat is a story. The reason why you’re not happy in your relationship is a story. Greek mythology is a story. Toy Story is… you get the idea.
A story is way for us to explain why something is what it is, or what we want it to be.
Stories are inherent to who we are and a part of everything we do in life. This isn’t a bad thing in itself… the problem starts coming in when the stories are fantasies that we use to justify things that aren’t there in order to feel something that wasn’t there.
Let’s jump back to excitement.
Getting excited implies an amping up: “Let’s get excited!” or “I’m excited!”. When people say they’re excited, that usually means there’s a story created around an experience to give it additional meaning, instead of just being present with the experience and letting whatever feelings arise simply happen organically. Feeling what they’d feel naked, without the addition of a story.
Why do we have to tell people that we’re excited? Who are we trying to convince: them or ourselves? Why can’t we just be whatever we are? What does somebody’s life, who goes around telling everybody they’re excited, really look like?
Do you feel joyous bliss? Great! Do you feel thrilling anticipation? Fantastic! Do you feel nervous or afraid? Perfect. Feel all those things how they are, there’s no need to create a story around it to get worked-up with excitement. Joy, bliss, happiness, arousal, ecstasy, yearning, elation, euphoria, glee… these are all pure feelings of goodness in and of themselves, there’s no need to excite them.
In physics, imagine when a molecule comes near another molecule and excites its electrons. An outside force is having an effect on the current state of the molecule. Imagine your electrons as your feeling, and excitement as that external molecule affecting that feeling. Why can’t we let that feeling just be that feeling instead of creating a story that surrounds it? You know, like these bad analogies.
While there’s many reasons we consciously or subconsciously do this, I’ve found it to be an incredible practice to let the stories go and simply be aware of what I feel based on the situation, and then if I find myself getting excited, ask “what story am I telling myself around this event?”. Often times I find that I’m hyping it up more than it needs to be in order to hide insecurities or the discomfort of simply being present to my emotions.
What if we were to not have this crazy roller coaster where we build up an idea and then feel elated when it happens (as a relief from not being disappointed), and to just experience whatever the experience was going to be on its own? So maybe you’re not jumping up and down when you make a lot of money or get a date (but still feeling appreciation)… what message do you think that sends out to the universe? (Hint: maybe possibly that it happens all the time and you always get dates and abundance, so it keeps sending back whatever’s natural like the wealthy naturally do?).
On the flip-side, if we’re not getting that high, we’re also not getting that low from our story. Am I saying we won’t feel sad that it didn’t happen? No not at all; I’m saying that we’ll feel whatever we would feel based on the actual event, not the story we made around it. It’s much more real, much more honest, much more present in the now. Stories are only in the past or present.
This is not about avoiding feeling amazing or terrible — it’s about feeling more pure and presently with less attachment to a fantasy we create. Feel the bliss, feel the pain, feel it all — there’s just no need to amplify it with a myth; it’s perfectly beautiful however you naturally would feel.
And lastly, what about the semantics? The vernacular around expressing “excitement” is indeed trite and by default. Well, there are other words we can use that are quite delightful when trying to express our “excitement” that can better express what we mean. However, if the intention and feeling is still the same as the “excitement buildup”, it makes no difference in the words you use. Here’s a list of some excitement-replacers:
If you want some solid emphasis, just add your flavor of amplifier words in front, such as:
You now have 154 different ways to express your excitement without falling into the “excitement trap”. While I am being a tad bit flippant, our language does indeed define our world, so it is important to consciously craft your words. I personally find it more fun this way, however if you’re a Lame Larry, feeling “great”, “turned on”, or “happy” works as well – just make sure what you feel is pure, rather than being compelled to amp up your emotions for an inevitable subconscious let down.
Think about a time where you amped your self up, where you got excited — what was the story you were telling yourself around it? Share in the comments below!
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