As children we are born exuberant. We don’t mind letting everyone know when we are excited. We squeal, laugh and shout out our exuberance for all to hear. Unfortunately, we are told by adults to be quite and calm down. We are told that our behavior is embarrassing. When we grow up to be adults we are socialized to believe that exuberance should be contained and managed. Along the way we get the exuberance knocked out of us. Exuberance, however, is not to be quashed, but celebrated and appreciated.
According to Webster’s Dictionary the meaning of exuberance is, “Unrestrained in enthusiasm or style.” To be exuberant is not to hold back, but to allow the joy and happiness to flow. I believe it is the unrestrained part that adults don’t appreciate. We want everything to be controlled and contained. In essence we want to hold ourselves back in favor of appearance.
Children on the other hand don’t care what others think and possess the ability to experience pure joy without any editing. When shopping in my favorite market a child that discovered a pepperoni display amused me. He excitedly shouted to his father, “Hey dad here is some pepperoni. We can make pizza.” He was dancing all around so excited about his discovery. His father rushed over and immediately told him to calm down and said, “Not everyone in the store needs to know that you want to make pizza.” The child indeed calmed down, and I couldn’t help but feel a little sad. Here is a child excited about the simple pleasure of discovery, but was quickly learning that wasn’t appropriate.
The next time you find yourself or someone else being exuberant, resist the urge to quash the exuberance. Let the joy and happiness flow naturally. There is no need to control it or manage it. Really, give up caring what other people think. Life without exuberance isn’t as fun or as joyful. So, let yourself go and be exuberant. Who knows? You just might become a role model for others.