Elation is intense joy.
Just as with all the positive emotions, elation is concerned with caring for people and this includes care for oneself (self-respect). More specifically, elation is created from events that will significantly contribute – positively – to particular cared-for people. When hopes come true, people become elated.
Elation is the most positive of feelings, and it’s used to describe experiences that can potentially lift spirits to the highest degree. Elation is concerned with extremely high levels of satisfaction, and it’s not an emotion experienced every day. It leaves people shining with satisfaction for hours, weeks, and sometimes months after the event. This means it has significant influence on mood. Elation possibly contributes to temperament as it’s an emotion of significant fortune.
Sitting on a dune, Rye looks out to sea and marvels at the brilliant blue-gold-red mackerel sunset. Rye was surfing in those waves a few hours ago. He feels a deep sense of contentment and exhilaration that stems from an unknown satisfaction. Rye attempts to explain the experience to Ashley beside him saying, “I am filled with wonder, but it’s more than amazement?”
They turn towards each other and notice the other smiling ear-to-ear. Both belly laugh in acknowledgement and Ashley says, “We’re on a mix of elation and exhilaration.”
There are different levels of elation, and this often is noticeable when people return from a holiday or long adventure. After having an intensely pleasurable time, coming back to a stressful environment creates a contrast between how people felt before they left and how positively charged they are on their return. Many people will recognise the deep biological satisfaction that elating experiences offer. It may be difficult to point to exactly what caused the positivity, but it feels unmistakeably nourishing.
Events such as getting married can cause people to feel elated. The glowing woman throughout her pregnancy. The first look at a new born child. Witnessing children getting married or achieving something of great significance in their lives. These things may not cause everyone to be elated as satisfaction and hopes are very personal things that are individual to each and every person. Nevertheless, they do serve as examples of events that can and often do cause people to feel elated.
Positive moods naturally instil a psychological resistance against thinking about negative things that will stress neuro-biological systems. Be that as it may, the perception of a serious threat will interrupt a positive mood as seriously threatening events take precedence over positive ones. This evolutionary adaptation instinctively prepares people for life-threatening scenarios to the exclusion of positive moods.
There are multiple cortical systems and sub-systems that are dedicated to specific emotions, and they’re dedicated to processing specific types of information associated with different perceptions.1 Brain activity shifts to different systems as people perceive different events and experience different emotions. There is accumulating evidence that positive emotional processing is biassed towards the left-hemisphere regions whilst the reverse is true for negative emotions.2
Positive emotions work as a buffer, both psychologically and physiologically, to negative emotions.3
Positive emotions psychologically pull people away from analytical, ruminating thinking. They cause people to act on their present knowledge bases – memory. When in a positive mood, people are instinctively enabled to focus on a broader range of issues, and their thoughts are more inclusive, so they’re more creative and flexibly minded.4 As thoughts are not analytically searching for answers, due to intuitively using current knowledge bases, psychological neural workload is decreased. Activity is reduced in brain areas that process negative searching thoughts. There is a significant psychological relaxing effect of positive emotions.
When this shift in perception takes place, a cascade of biological responses dramatically decreases vigilant and tense states. Amygdalae, situated in each temporal lobe, maintain alertness to fearful and unknown contingencies, and they effectively disengage a load or are put on standby when people experience positive emotions.5 Neurotransmitters, hormones and sympathetic nervous system functions, which support alert attention to problems, no longer tax neuro-biological systems. As a consequence, the body becomes less tense at a neuro-biological level. Therefore, there is also a significant physiological relaxing effect of positive emotions. They relate to safe environments. Places where people can unwind.
Logically, this suggests that participating in enjoyable activities creates positive emotions that are therapeutic in themselves. Positive emotions relax psychological, neurological and physiological systems related to the right-hemispherical negative emotional processing. Those systems then recuperate to a healthy state ready for when next a problem is encountered. They are not stressed into dysfunction. Switching between left-hemisphere positive and right-hemisphere negative emotional processing describes a process of maintaining balance through change – homeostasis or allostasis. A healthy balance seems to be achieved through a continuously repeated traverse of brain regions that honours fatigue and rest cycles.
Notwithstanding the difficulties in purposefully achieving such positive emotions, these are significant reasons why positive emotional states should be considered as treatment options to stress, anxiety, and depressive related conditions. As it neuro-biologically pulls people out of negative emotional processing, elation is an emotion that has the power to alleviate, disrupt and even break overly negative cognitive routines.
Nevertheless, a word of caution is needed. As positive emotions lower people’s defences, and make people more likely to trust those around them, elation is not an appropriate emotion to be experiencing when in a hostile situation, for it will bias cognitive routines towards being socially relaxed and affable. Because elation is the most positive of emotions, and people react more automatically when feeling intense emotions, people may inappropriately trust those who do not deserve to be trusted. The company in which people become elated matters. It could lead to seriously unfortunate errors in judgment where the most intensely positive feelings are associated with untrustworthy people. Cognitive routines would become biassed towards treating the person with affection, and this would typically be felt as an allure. An unexplainable attraction towards someone who will cause harm.
Latin. Elationem, Elatus = elevated, metaphoric sense of lifting spirits.
1. Elevation of mind arising from success or self-approbation, pride of prosperity; pride.
2. Elevation of spirits (in neutral or good sense); buoyancy, joyousness, pleasurable self-satisfaction.