Ode to joy

September 29, 2004

WHEN A LEADING expert on mood disorders writes a book extolling the state of exuberance, you don't know whether to laugh or cry. Laugh gleefully (of course) at the notion that promoting this much-maligned expression of unrestrained, enthusiastic joy might prod the disinclined to join in. Cry -- with joy -- at the acknowledgment that this uber-happiness is a genuine state of being, not false or drug-induced, and worthy of praise.

At the very least, Exuberance: The Passion for Life, Kay Redfield Jamison's exuberant take on this often-derided emotion, should let those who exuberate do so wildly and with little concern for embarrassing the unexuberant. Not that the truly exuberant are shy or can be restrained during an episode of bliss. But let's face it, in these times of war and terrorist alerts and the depression du jour, a recognition of the power of joy should be applauded -- enthusiastically.

Exuberance is excitement, zeal and wonder all rolled into one. It's the antidote to monotony, Zing over Zap. It crosses gender, class and profession. And if the inclination toward exuberance is innate, then those who possess it should channel its energy, exult in its presence and delight in fits of joy.

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