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Wednesday, November 21, 2012


As defined by the OED, elation is an exalted and high-spirited condition arising from success or self-approbation. Elation involves the elevation of a person’s prosperity and pride [1]. The word elation originates from the Latin elat, the past participle of efferre, which means to bring out; carry out; or to elevate. The great happiness and exhilaration that comes with elation is best attributed to a form of success.
The difficulty in understanding and defining elation comes with determining success; to some, success is a realization of self-worth and perseverance, while others may see accomplishments as academic, physical or as monetary successes. Whatever the elevating events may be, an individual must first experience the tribulations of a lower plain in their lives―a plateau. In my own experience, I do not believe I have yet felt elated. I do not see the emotional trajectory relating to elation is not an upward slope, but rather a direct and instant change upward. The events that leave one elated are quite likely to be milestones in one’s life: the accomplishment of a life-long goal; marriage; liberation; celebrations of life.
Rooted from the efferre, the notion of bringing out, or carrying out, helps us understand that the path to elation is one that requires effort, and is not easily attainable. The Germanic stem bring not only defines the act of carrying or bearing in one’s hand, but also describes the act of leading and conducting [2]. As explored earlier, there is an aspect of self-approbation to elation which can only be accomplished alone. The actions and success of others can bring great joy to an individual, though to be elated is an emotional state that is personally achieved. Elation is a sentiment far rarer than happiness and more similar to great pride.
There is a great similarity between being vainglorious and elated. The excess of boastfulness and pride in one’s own qualities and actions that turn elation into vainglory are subjective [3]. The extent of outward display of exaltedness is what differentiates elation from vainglory; to be elated seems far more rewarding because it is achieved and shared alone, or with a carefully considered few. Elation is seen as the lifting of spirits; it is an introspective form of happiness that is extraordinary.  

[1]   “elation, n.” Oxford University Press, OED Online, http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/60156?redirectedFrom=elation+#eid (accessed November 20, 2012).
[2]   “bring, v.” Oxford University Press, OED Online, http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/23385?redirectedFrom=bring+#eid (accessed November 20, 2012).
[3]   “vainglorious, adj.” Oxford University Press, OED Online, http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/221086?redirectedFrom=vainglorious+#eid (accessed November 20, 2012).

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