Have you ever experienced the incredible feeling that everything is going so well that the stars seem to have aligned in your favor? Have you ever felt the sudden and unstoppable need to destroy something? These emotions and feelings have a name, but not in our language, because they represent complex emotional states which are difficult to express with words we know.
However, Tiffany Watt Smith, a psychologist at the Center for the History of Emotions at Queen Mary University, analyzed 154 words of different languages that are used to indicate very specific emotions and feelings that most of us have experienced once in our life, but without knowing its name.
When the emotional life is richer than vocabulary
Our emotional field is extremely broad. But if we do not pay enough attention to our emotions, sensations and feelings, they end up “disappearing” and we will lose the wealth that can bring us. In fact, the emotional granularity is a skill that very few people possess and refers to the ability to experience different emotional states being aware of the same. It does not mean feeling bad, in general, but to be able to say that we feel frustrated, angry or nostalgic.
Knowing the names of different emotions, sensations and feelings we experience helps us expand our emotional range. In fact, when we are able to give them a label we live more intensely these feelings because we are telling our brain to focus on them.
Here are some of the “rare” emotions and feelings that maybe you’ve felt at least once:
The word “amae” is Japanese and means, literally, “to behave like a spoiled child”, but in the most positive sense of the term. In fact, in Japan it is used to refer to the good feeling which involves abandoning ourselves, forget ourselves and rely on the care of a loved one, such as a partner or the mother. This emotion is nice because it allows us go back to childhood and relive the feeling of protection.
2. L’appel du vide
Sometimes, did you find yourself at the top of a building and want to jum down? Or while you were driving your car, did you feel the burning desire to quickly turn the steering wheel and get out of the way? The French call this sudden surge “L’Appel du vide”, it does not necessarily mean that it’s based on a suicidal idea or that the person will try to implement it. In fact, they believe that this is the “vacuum booster”, a kind of force hard to explain that encourages us to do dangerous things but basically serves to remind us that it is not always good to get carried by instinct.
This emotion is like our melancholy, but much more specific, since the natives of Papua New Guinea use it to indicate the empty feeling we experience when a person who has visited us recently leaves. At that moment the house is empty and we feel profoundly lonely. To fill this void the inhabitants of Baining, Papua New Guinea, do a ritual: when the person goes away, they fill a bowl of water, which captures all the negative energy. The next day they throw the water, with all the negative feelings, and life goes on.
It is a French word for the strange excitement that we experience with the idea of destroying something. It refers to the impulse we feel when we have a fragile object in our hands and we are assailed by the idea of throwing it to the ground and break it. This feeling stems from the desire to create chaos, which is perfectly understandable since we live in a society where everything is so well organized and labeled as to be overwhelming. In fact, this feeling usually occurs when we feel trapped.
“Malu” is a word used in Indonesia to show the feeling of being inferior to others. In fact, it is a nagging feeling in which different emotions and feelings such as shame, shyness and frustration are mixed. We may experience it when we are alone in the elevator with our boss and we do not feel at ease. At that moment suddenly we lose confidence in ourselves and we are assaulted by shame. In fact, this feeling can become so strong as to block us psychologically. When the person disappears we feel relief.
It’s a good feeling that you have probably tried without knowing what it was called. In fact, it is exactly the opposite of paranoia, as it involves the feeling that everything is going in the right direction. It’s a feeling that fills us with positive energy, because we believe that all the stars have finally aligned and we have been blessed by fortune. At the same time, we feel protected and we are certain that, at least in the near future, everything will work out well for us.
This German word is used to denote the feeling that time passes very quickly. It’s a feeling we experience, over the years, especially if we are not satisfied with what we have achieved in life. It also leads to the sensation of feeling on the verge of missing the train, the fear of losing the opportunity of a lifetime. In fact, the literal translation of Torschlusspanik, would be something like “fear that the doors will be shut” includes concern for the passage of time and the feeling that we’re not taking enough advantage of it.
This Inuit word is used to refer to the feeling almost everyone has experienced the moment we expect someone with anxiety. It is the agonizing wait that forces us to stand at the window or at the door, to see if the person we are waiting for has arrived, even though we know it’s not time. Iktsuarpok is the word which indicates the expectation that includes anxiety and impatience, but also hope and enthusiasm.
9. Mono no aware
It is a Japanese expression that indicates a particularly complex emotion where sensitivity, emotion, surprise and sadness mingle. Often we experience this emotion in front of the beauty of things or in ephemeral relationships, as when we visit a beautiful place that is about to be demolished or appreciate a beautiful flower that will soon dry up, for example. This emotion tells us that we are enjoying something unique, which will soon cease to exist, so we feel joy but also sadness. It is a very deep feeling, because, in a sense, it puts us in front of our mortality.
It is a Dutch word used to indicate a feeling of warmth and intimacy that makes us feel comfortable and protected. It’s often used to indicate the special moments of intimacy with friends or partners, but we can try this feeling even in places that have a very warm and welcoming atmosphere that makes us feel safe at home.