Friday, February 12, 2016

Favorite Emotions

Sometimes it feels nice to make people happy.

But sometimes I want to know exactly what kind of happy I've made them, what kinds of happy they like best, and what kinds of emotions they prefer in general. I want to understand them well enough to make them feel the things they care about most, not just happiness.

In fact, there’s probably nobody I don’t want to know that about.

So I asked Facebook, “What is your favorite emotion, and what's an example of something that has made you feel that way?”

These are several of the responses, re-ordered and slightly edited. You can see the originals here.

Safety/simple thriving: Everything is mundane in the most sublime way. Like, I have a good day in my job AND relationship AND family AND friendships AND intellectually and I feel like everything is figured out.

Contentment: Meditating by a fire after a good meal, knowing I won't be disturbed and nothing is going to change until I tell it to.

Curiosity: When I don't even want to leave the hospital because I want to know whether my patient's next set of bloodwork will be better.

Being "in" on one of the universe's secrets: If I was a kid playing in the backyard, it would resemble the excitement of climbing down the trap door to the wine cellar for the first time.

The perspective shift from the planet being stationary and the sky rotating to space being stationary and the planet rotating with me on it.

Insight: When you finally really understand something important, on a gut level.

Vitality: Running at night in the country during a thunderstorm. My lungs are full of fire, and the wind is in my hair, and the world trembles with the pounding of my feet, of my heart, of my breath.

Radiating with unlimited power: Excellent performance with a huge audience, flawlessly accomplishing something I never knew I could do, feeling like an Alicorn-style vampire - "if I think to do it, it's done".

Glory: The thing I feel on the Bay Bridge.

Sudden, heart wrenching compassion: When your small self-centered perspective is ripped away without warning and you're drowning in love and sorrow for someone else, or the whole world, or the whole future. When I became friends with someone by helping her adjust after she escaped severe abuse and oppression, and then I found out she had a sister who was still trapped, and I was irresistibly compelled to think of reckless schemes to move the world and save her as quickly as possible. The twist in Ender's Game.

Admiration: When I see someone do something profoundly altruistic, I find it overwhelming, even in some stupid movie, I don't cry when people die, animals die, suffer, whatever - but an act of self-sacrifice overwhelms me. It doesn't have to be big, heroic acts, either. The more personal acts seem to move me the most. When Arland Williams died I couldn't stop sobbing for about twenty minutes. It's not sadness, either - Just profound admiration and something like joy that such people exist.

Anticipatory love: When I have a crush on someone and I know they reciprocate it but we're not dating yet but I'm still trying to figure out what D&D class they are and how they would fit into my life.

Unexpected pride: Like when I have a habit that I do without thinking about it, like picking up trash on the sidewalk, and someone walking by thanks me for doing so.

You ain’t seen nothin’ yet: The feeling when I’ve just started to learn something new in a domain where I have a lot of talent, and someone sees my skill level after a single session of practice and is stunned, but I’ve only just begun. The time when I befriended a contact juggler and he agreed to teach me, and by the end of the first lesson he was treating me like his pet science project and wondering just how many orders of magnitude past his previous expectations he could push me.

Excitement: New running shoes that are a new color.

Arousal: When I'm sexy and I know it.

Merriment and affection: Like when I'm laughing with a friend and our eyes meet, and I can see the joy of our bond reflected back at me.

When you laugh so hard it literally hurts, then you can't help laughing when you think of the joke or occurrence several days later.

The inner relaxation that I get from ASMR, like I've turned to jelly with a thin crust of person on top.

Beautiful design: The feeling of encountering it is complex but consistent. There's a thing that's like suddenly falling, as though a trap door opened below me. Pleasure. Rightness, like two and two adding up to four. Submission, as though I'm in the presence of a great power. Gratitude. The spines of these books.

That feeling when Harry shows Draco his patronus in chapter 47 of HPMOR.

Deep, beautiful, complex sadness: It's like a mix of awe and sadness and understanding. When I see the world for what it is (broken).

Mourning and recovery: I like the feeling I get after examining and crying about some hurt or loss in a certain way. To where I know that next time, the fear won't be there. Or likewise, to where I know that next time I won't let something pass me by. It is like I reach inside myself with my hand, and draw my heart out from a deep pool, and put it back into its place and it starts beating again.

Determination: When it feels impossible to save all 2x10^58th people who will exist if I give them every star in my future light cone, but damned if I'll let that stop me.

Mastery against mounting challenge/risk: That feeling of "kicking it up a notch" over and over again. I get it most clearly from rhythm games like DDR, when a single mis-step will cost me my 100+ combo, and the music is building towards its peak.

Original seeing: That open and calm feeling when I am out in nature and experiencing the whole of what I can see and hear and smell. Like paying attention to how things actually look and my whole field of vision and how the trees twist and rotate and move past each other in space as I move around, like you do when you draw or paint.

The excitement of a very promising option opening up: The moment where you have come up with and are thinking about a new idea that looks extremely promising but hasn't been fully verified yet. That intuitive sense of "this is the one" and excitedly running over all the ways it elegantly solves your problem in your mind.

Stress under pressure with high stakes and hard deadlines => Determination to win => Methodical relentlessness, tenacity, focus => Knocking it the fuck out of the park: Experienced this earlier today fixing a persistent and crippling issue in production code while our contract is up for rebid. Still coming down from the high.

Triumph: When I had a high finish in a large Magic tournament. I felt on top of the world for a few days afterward.

Satisfaction: like when you're playing a strategy board game for hours, and all that intense planning comes to successful fruition.

Transcendent glory: The feeling of awe and beauty I get when seeing my world change and unfold in a new and epic way such that nothing will be the same. If I was tasked with recreating the emotion, I would listen to the soundtrack to The Fountain while walking across the Brooklyn Bridge towards Manhattan at night.

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