The Language of Emotion



In interviews, people were asked to describe their experience in various emotional states. Notice how physical emotions are:

books
descriptions of relief from The Language of Emotion, by Joel Davitz

We can learn a lot about meditative experience by studying emotional experience. It is more than just positing that meditative experience is to some percentage, emotional experience. The emotions are multidimensional activities - they are dynamic processes on the levels of sensation, chemicals, and subjective experience. Each emotion invites us to evaluate our experience with the outer world, and when we feel an emotion, we are invited into our inner world.

ADMIRATION

there’s a renewed appreciation of life
I’m optimistic and cheerful
life is worth living
I feel like smiling
there is an inner warm glow, a radiant sensation
the future seems bright
there is a feeling of warmth overall
a sense of well-being
I’m excited in a calm way
my senses are perfectly focused


AFFECTION

a sense of trust and appreciation in another person
an intense positive relationship
communion, unity, closeness, friendliness, freedom, mutual respect and interdependence
a sense of giving
sense of empathic harmony
in tune, sharing and experiencing the same feelings
I want to touch, hold, be close physically to the other person
a sense of being wanted, needed
I want to feel with the other person, experience with the other person in every sense
a radiant sensation
my mind and body seem totally unified


AMUSEMENT

I feel like smiling
I’m loose, relaxed
life is worth living
I feel effervescent
an inner warm glow
an inner buoyancy
a sense of lightness, an upsurge of the body
I feel like laughing
I feel outgoing
I seem to nurture the feeling within myself
I want the feeling to continue
it’s a simple, pure feeling


ANGER

my blood pressure goes up
blood seems to rush through my body
there is an excitement, a sense of being keyed up, overstimulated
my pulse quickens
I feel that I’ll burst or explode
there is a churning inside
my heart pounds
everything inside, my stomach, throat, my head is expanding to the utmost, almost bursting
there is a narrowing of my senses
I keep thinking of getting even, of revenge


ANXIETY

I’m wound up inside
my whole body is tense
I’m jumpy, jittery
I want to do something, anything, to relieve the tension
there is a tight knotted feeling in my stomach
a tension across my back, my neck, and shoulders
I feel overwhelmed by everything
everything seems out of proportion
there is a queasy feeling in my stomach
there is a yearning desire for change
there is an intense concern for what will happen next
I want things to hurry up and begin to change
a sense of aloneness, being cut off, completely by myself
my attention becomes riveted on one thing
I want to fight against it, not let the feeling overcome me


APATHY

a general “I don’t care attitude,”
I have no desire, no motivation, no interest
there seems to be a lack of feeling inside
I’m physically less responsive
I feel mentally dull
there is no sensation
I’m not too alert
heavy, logy, sluggish,
I feel tired, sleepy
it’s as if I’m out of touch
I’m unfocused and cannot focus


AWE

I’m excited in a calm way
I feel wide awake
warm excitement
intensified focus to my sensations
all my senses seem to be completely open
a sense that I’m experiencing everything fully, completely, thoroughly
I feel insignificant
I become aware of the vastness and spaciousness of the world around me
I’m less aware of time
there seems to be religious overtones
there is a sense that another dimension has been added and everything has greater intensity


BOREDOM

I feel tired, sleepy
Less physically responsive
heavy, logy, sluggish
under-stimulated
mentally dull
all excitement is gone
let down
lack of involvement
aimless
I try to escape into dreams and fantasies
I feel as if I am in a vacuum
my mind wanders
a feeling of a certain distance from others
everyone seems far away
a bland sort of feeling


CHEERFULNESS

I’m loose, relaxed
the world seems basically good and beautiful
everything is going right for me
a radiant sensation
the future seems bright
there is a sense of harmony and peace within
I am free of conflict
a sense of “rightness” with oneself and the world
I feel safe and secure
I feel I can really be myself
it’s a simple, pure feeling


CONFIDENCE

I feel safe and secure
I’m really functioning as a unit
there is a sense of accomplishment, fulfillment
everything is going right for me
I feel strong inside
I am able to think clearly, understand everything
a sense of being important and worthwhile
a feeling that I can do anything
I’m in tune with the world
I can really be myself
I feel outgoing
it seems to be a clearly formed tangible sort of feeling


CONTEMPT

my whole body is tense
I’m easily irritated, ready to snap
I’m wound up inside
I want to say something nasty, something that will hurt someone
I want to strike out, explode
my blood pressure goes up
there is a sense of disbelief
I keep thinking, “why?”
I keep searching for an explanation
it’s involved with other feelings


CONTENTMENT

I’m loose, relaxed
a sense of well-being
harmony and peace within
I am peaceful, tranquil within
I am free of conflict
I think about beautiful things
everything seems easier - breathing, moving, thinking
there is a sense of carefree but within balance
my body seems to soften
it’s a state of release
I feel I can really be myself
there is an inner buoyancy
a particularly acute awareness of pleasurable things, their sounds, their colors, their textures
- everything seems more beautiful, natural and desirable
I seem to be immediately in touch and appreciative of immediate physical sensations
there is a sense of loving everyone
I feel soft and firm


DELIGHT

I feel like smiling
there is an inner warm glow, a radiant sensation
a sense of well-being
there is a feeling of warmth all over
I’m in tune with the world
I’m loose, relaxed
there is a mellow comfort
a sense of harmony and peace within
I feel safe and secure
i feel effervescent, bubbly
excited in a calm way
a sense of loving everyone, everything
a sense of being supercharged
I want to hold back time, capture the moment


DEPRESSION

I feel empty, drained, hollow
undercharged, under-stimulated
heavy, sluggish
my feelings seem dulled
a sense of being dead inside
my body seems to slow down
off balance
as if I were in quicksand
the feeling is very deep inside
a bottomless feeling


DETERMINATION

there is a feeling that no obstacle is too great for me
I have a sense of more confidence in myself
I feel taller, stronger, bigger
a sense of being exceptionally strong or energetic
my muscle tone is suddenly enhanced
wide awake
with a sense of vitality, aliveness, vibrancy
an extra spurt of energy or drive
my body seems to speed up
it’s a steady ongoing feeling


DISGUST

I’m ready to snap
my face and mouth are tight, tense, hard
there is a tight knotted feeling in my stomach
my teeth are clenched
my whole body is tense
I feel nauseated
there is a sense I have no control over the situation


DISLIKE

I’m easily irritated
I’m wound up inside
there is a narrowing of my senses
I begin to think about what I can do to change the situation
the feeling is only brief in time
I want to explode on someone
the negative energy is flowing through me


ELATION

I feel effervescent, bubbly
a special lift in everything I do and say
a sense of being more alive
wide awake
an extra spurt of energy or drive
I see more alert
everything seems more beautiful, natural, and desirable
I’m experiencing everything fully, completely thoroughly;
I’m feeling all the way
there is a quickening of the heartbeat
I feel driven to move, be active, do something, anything but sitting or standing still
I want to reach out to everyone I meet


EMBARRASSMENT

there is a sense of regret
I begin to think about what I can do to change the situation
I want things to hurry up
I want to hide my feeling
I get mad at myself for my feelings or thoughts or for what I’ve done
I want to withdraw, disappear
I feel vulnerable and totally helpless
there is a sense that I have no control over the situation
My whole body is tense
there is a clutching, a sinking in the middle of my chest
there is a queasy feeling in my stomach


ENJOYMENT

Feeling of smiling
I’m completely free from worry
I’m in tune with the world
I’m optimistic and cheerful
life is worth living
there is an inner warm and glow
there is a sense of fullness
there is a sense of being carefree but with balance
there is a general release, lessening of tension
nothing is a burden
problems fade away
I seem to nurture the feeling within myself
I want to make others happy
my senses are perfectly focused


EXCITEMENT

there is a sense of vitality, aliveness, vibrancy
more alert
I feel effervescent, bubbly
wide awake
over-stimulated, supercharged
I feel outgoing
there is less anticipation, waiting for something to happen


FEAR

my whole body is tense
there is a tight knotted feeling in my stomach
muscular rigidity
I’m cold, yet perspiration pours out of me
I’m jumpy, jittery
my hands are moist
I’m wound up inside
there’s a quickening of heartbeat
blood seems to rush through my body
there is a clutching, sinking feeling in the middle of my chest
there is an intense concern for what will happen next
the feeling fills me completely



FRIENDLINESS

there is a sense of confidence in being with another person
I am cheerful
there is a renewed appreciation of life
with a feeling of warmth all over
there is a sense of harmony and peace within
everything is going right for me
there is an intense positive relationship with another person or with other people
a communion, a unity, a closeness
I feel outgoing
a sense of acceptance for others
I want to be with friends
there is a sense of being wanted or needed


FRUSTRATION

I’m easily irritated, ready to snap
I’m wound up inside
there is a tension across my back, my neck, my shoulders
I’m hypersensitive
I feel sorry for myself
I feel as if I’m under a heavy burden
It’s as if I am suffocating or smothering
I feel that I will burst or explode
I am slightly headachy, as if my brain were tired
there is a churning inside
I want to strike out, explode, but I hold back, control myself


GAIETY

a radiant sensation
I feel like smiling
the world seems basically good and beautiful
I have a sense of being free, uninhibited open, no longer blocked
Anything goes
there is a sense of smiling at myself
I feel like I can really be myself
I am free from conflict
I feel safe and secure


GRATITUDE

there is a renewed appreciation of life
the future seems bright
life is worth living
nothing is a burden
there is a mellow comfort
there is a sense of appreciation of another person
I keep thinking how lucky I am
there is an intense positive relationship with another person


GRIEF

I can’t smile or laugh
there is a lump in my throat
there is an inner ache you can’t locate
there is a heaviness in my chest
my heart seems to ache
there is a heavy feeling in my stomach
a clutching, sinking feeling in the middle of my chest
I have no appetite, I can’t eat
I feel as if I am under a heavy burden
there is a deep, intense pain
it hurts to be alive
there is a sense of regret
a sense of longing
a longing to have things the same as before
a feeling that time has passed and it’s too late
there is a sense of being incomplete, as if part of me is missing
I don’t want to talk to anyone about how I am feeling
a sense of wandering, lost in space with nothing solid to grab onto
all excitement, vitality is gone
there is a sense of loss, of deprivation
a sense of disbelief
I don’t care about how I look

GUILT

there is a sense of regret
I get mad at myself for my feelings or thoughts or for what I’ve done
I keep blaming myself for the situation
I try to stop thinking of the situation and try to think of other things
I wish I could go back in time
I have a sense of being no good
there is a sense of weakness
I want to hide my feelings
I’m hypersensitive
wound up inside
my whole body is tense
I want to do something, anything, to change the situation and relieve the tension


HAPPINESS

there is an inner warm glow, a radiant sensation
I feel like smiling
there is a sense of well-being
everything is going right for me
the world seems basically good and beautiful
I’m at peace with the world
a sense of smiling at myself
I am peaceful, tranquil, quiet
I am really functioning as a unit
there is a sense of being more alive
I am excited in a calm way
I seem to experience things with greater clarity
a particularly acute awareness of pleasurable things, their sounds, their colors, their textures
colors seem brighter
a sense of being very open, receptive, with no separation between me and the world
a sense that I’m experiencing everything fully, completely, thoroughly, that I’m feeling all the way
all my senses seem to be completely open
there is a strong sense of interest and involvement in things around me
I keep thinking how lucky I am
I seem to nurture the feeling within myself, I want the feeling to continue, to keep going
I feel like singing
there is an excitement, a sense of being keyed up


HATE

my whole body is tense
I’m easily irritated, ready to snap
my teeth are clenched
I want to do something, anything, to change the situation ad relieve the tension
I want to say something nasty, something that will hurt someone
I keep thinking of getting even, of revenge
my attention becomes riveted on one thing
I seem to be caught up and overwhelmed by the feeling


HOPE

I’m excited in a calm way
there is a warm excitement
there is a sense of anticipation
there is a renewed appreciation of life
an intense concern for what will happen next
life is worth living


IMPATIENCE

I’m easily irritated, ready to snap
I’m jumpy, jittery
wound up inside
I want to do something, anything, to change the situation and relieve the tension
there is a tension across my back, my neck, and shoulders
my teeth grind against each other
there is a yearning, a desire for change
I want things to hurry up and begin to change
there is a narrowing of my senses
my attention becomes riveted on one thing
I feel driven to move, be active, do something, anything, dance, jump, run, move - anything but sitting or standing still
I have a tremendous sense of being in a hurry, in a rush
time seems to drag
I have a sense of being trapped, closed up, boxed in, fenced in, tied down, inhibited
my reactions seem to be exaggerated


INSPIRATION

there is an inner buoyancy
I seem more alert
more alive
my senses are perfectly focused
I seem to experience things with greater clarity
I have a sense of sureness
a feeling that I can do anything
a sense of being real, of existing
a sense of being keyed up, overstimulated, supercharged
I seem to be caught up and overwhelmed by the feeling
I want the feeling to continue, to keep going
There is a sense of accomplishment, fulfillment


IRRITATION

ready to snap
I’m wound up inside
my whole body is tense
I’m hypersensitive
my fists are clenched
I want to say something nasty
there is a yearning, a desire for change
I have a sense of being trapped, closed up


JEALOUSY

I feel sorry for myself
I feel insignificant
I seem to be caught up and overwhelmed by the feeling
I want to understand, but I can’t
there is a sense of longing
a sensation of my heart sinking
I feel let down
I keep thinking, “why?”
there is a churning inside
there is a sense of loss, of deprivation
there is an inner ache you can’t locate
I want to say something nasty, something that will hurt someone
I want to strike out, explode, but I hold back, control myself


LOVE

there is an inner warm glow, a radiant sensation
I’m optimistic and cheerful; the world seems basically good
life is worth living
there is a feeling of warmth all over
I’m in tune with the world
there is a sense of harmony and peace within
a sense of “rightness” with oneself and the world
there is a sense of fullness
everything is going right for me
I’m peaceful, tranquil, quiet
loose, relaxed
there is a sense of being carefree, but within balance
I want to be tender and gentle with another person
there is a desire to give of myself to another person
I want to touch, hold, be close physically to the other person
there is a total concentration on another person, an intense awareness of the other person
communion, unity, closeness, friendliness and freedom, mutual respect and interdependence
a sense of belonging with another person, a belonging from which other people are excluded
there’s a sense of complete understanding of the other person
a realization that someone else is more important to me than I am to myself
there is a sense of being wanted, needed
I want to make others happy
there is an intense awareness of everything; I seem to experience things with greater clarity; colors seem brighter, sounds clearer, movements more vivid
I feel effervescent, bubbly
I keep thinking how lucky I am
I have a sense of being important and worthwhile
a sense of sureness
I feel strong inside
there is a sense of being more substantial, of existing, of being real
more of an “inner” than an “outer” feeling
the feeling seems to be all over, nowhere special, just not localized
it fills me completely
the feeling is very deep inside; I seem to feel it at the pit of my being
it’s a steady, ongoing feeling
the feeling seems to go on and on, boundless, endless, limitless


NERVOUSNESS


I’m jumpy, jittery
there is a tight knotted feeling in my stomach
my whole body is tense
my hands are moist
there is a quickening of heartbeat
there is an excitement, a sense of being keyed up, overstimulated
there is a sense of being gripped by the situation
I’m greatly concerned about doing the wrong thing
there is a sense of being a bit ajar within myself
I have many different thoughts going through my head
I want to fight against it, not let the feeling overcome me


PANIC

there is a sense of being gripped by the situation
I seem to be caught up and overwhelmed by the feeling
I feel vulnerable and totally helpless
there is a quickening of heartbeat
blood seems to rush through my body
there is absolute physical turmoil
I’m stunned
my body seems to speed up
my hands are shaky
there is a clutching, sinking feeling in the middle of my chest
there is a sense of aloneness, being cut off, completely by myself


PASSION

I want to touch, hold, be close physically to the other person
there is a desire to give of myself to another person
there is a sense of empathic harmony with another person;
- in tune, sharing and experiencing the same feelings and thoughts
I want to be tender and gentle with another person
I want to feel with the other person, experience with the other person with every sense
there is a sense of confidence in being with another person
an intense positive relationship with another person
a communion, a unity, a closeness, friendliness and freedom, mutual respect and interdependence
there is a warm excitement
there is an intensified focus to my sensations
I have a sense of vitality, aliveness, vibrancy, an extra spurt of energy or drive
I seem to be immediately in touch and appreciative of immediate physical sensations
a sense that I’m experiencing everything fully, completely
my muscle tone is suddenly enhanced
I feel strong inside
there is a sense of being more substantial, of existing, of being real
an inner warm glow, a radiant sensation
I feel sexually excited
I’m intensely here and now

PITY

a heavy feeling in my stomach
an inner ache you can’t locate
I can’t smile or laugh
my heart seems to ache
I feel more understanding of others
I want to help, protect, and please another person
I keep thinking about how bad it is for the other person
an intense awareness of the other person
there is a sense of regret
I feel choked up


PRIDE

there is a warm excitement
a sense of vitality, aliveness, vibrancy
a special lift in everything I do and say
my senses are perfectly focused
I have a sense of sureness
I have a sense of being superior
a sense of power
there is a sense of accomplishment, fulfillment
I want the feeling to continue, to keep going


RELIEF

a lessening of tension
a state of release
there is a renewed appreciation of life
I have a sense of well-being
there is a sense of harmony and peace within
problems fade away and I’m worry free
I am free of conflict
everything is going right for me
I’m at peace with the world
I keep thinking how lucky I am
the feeling seems to be all over


REMORSE

there is a sense of regret
I keep blaming myself for the situation
I wish I could go back in time
I get mad at myself form y feelings or thoughts or for what I’ve done
it’s too late
it seems that nothing I do is right
there is a longing to have things the same as before
a tugging sensation inside
I feel let down
I feel empty, drained, and hollow
I keep thinking, “why?”


RESENTMENT

my whole body is tense
I’m wound up inside
I’m hypersensitive
I want to do something to relieve the tension
there is a sense of being gripped by the situation
I feel sorry for myself
I feel let down
there is a sense of being deserted, betrayed


REVERENCE

there is a sense of harmony and peace within
there is an inner warm glow, a radiant sensation
I am peaceful, tranquil, quiet
there is a renewed appreciation of life
there is a sense of fullness
my senses are perfectly focused
I’m excited in a calm way
there is an intense awareness of everything
I seem to experience things with greater clarity; colors seem brighter, sounds clearer, movements more vivid
I feel strong inside



SADNESS

there is a lump in my throat
there is a sense of loss, of deprivation
there is a clutching, sinking feeling in the middle of my chest
there is an inner ache you can’t locate
I have no appetite
my heart seems to ache
there is a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach
I feel choked up
there is a sense of nostalgia as old memories crop up and I think of the past
there is a sense of disbelief
tears well up
I cry
tears come to my eyes, the sort of tears not just from the eyes but my whole self is crying
I keep thinking about what happened over and over again
there is a throbbing in my throat
I become introspective, turn inwards


SERENITY


There is a sense of harmony and peace within
an inner warm glow, a radiant sensation
I am peaceful, tranquil, quiet
there is a renewed appreciation of life
there is a sense of fullness
I’m at peace with the world
there is a feeling of warmth all over
I feel strong inside
there seems to be religious overtones
there is a sense of being close to something unknown
I feel close to God
I have a sense of strangeness, unreality, as if I’m temporarily in another world
there is a state of timelessness


SHAME

there is a sense of regret
I keep blaming myself for the situation
I get mad at myself for my feelings or thoughts or for what I’ve done
I begin to think about what I can do to change the situation
there is a sense of weakness
there is a yearning, a desire for change
I feel as if I’m under a heavy burden
I want to withdraw, disappear, draw back, be alone, away from others, crawl into myself
there is an impulse to hide, to escape, to get away


SOLEMNITY

everything seems quiet
there is a sense of harmony and peace within
I become introspective, turn inwards
my senses are perfectly focused
I am peaceful, tranquil, quiet
It’s more an “inner” than an “outer” feeling
the feeling goes away slowly


SURPRISE

there is a warm excitement
I feel wide awake
more alert
with a sense of vitality, aliveness, vibrancy, an extra spurt of energy or drive
a sense of being more alive
I’m excited in a calm way
there is a quickening of heartbeat
there is an inner warm glow, a radiant sensation
there is a renewed appreciation of life
there is a sense of disbelief
I can’t believe what’s happening is true
I keep thinking how lucky I am
I feel outgoing
I’m breathless
I feel like laughing
the feeling fills me completely




from The Language of Emotion by Joel Davitz
From the research of Joel Davitz, in which he asked people to describe their experiences in various emotional states.

This dictionary of emotional meaning “ . . . represents a summary of statements used by over one-third of a sample of 50 American-English speaking persons in describing experiences associated with each of 50 emotional terms.”

“In some respects, the experiences of each subject are undoubtedly unique. In fact, for any one person, even though experiences at different times are labeled by the same term, these experiences are likely to differ somewhat from one another.” - The Language of Emotion, p. 85

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Joel Davitz and Lois Lederman wedding planning

Joel was formerly Chairman of the Clinical Psychology Department at Teachers College, Columbia University and Lois was a psychological researcher and faculty member also at Teachers College, Columbia University. They are currently emerti.