Video and Audio

Excitement vs. Happiness

Usha Dermond
July 31, 2023

Dive into Awake and Ready by Susan (Usha) Dermond, a revolutionary book that empowers children through energy-based learning. Drawing from her diverse background in education, Usha challenges the notion that "reasonable explanations" are always effective for children's emotional growth. Instead, she explores yogic principles, as taught by Paramhansa Yogananda, and how they can change the flow of energy to foster calmness and focus.

Usha's real-life experiences illustrate the power of these principles in practice, offering valuable insights for parents, teachers, and caregivers. By recognizing that true happiness comes from meaningful engagement, not mere excitement, adults can nurture a child's well-being and create a harmonious environment in homes, classrooms, and workplaces.

Video Transcript


Welcome to the Education for Life Institute Channel where we talk about things related to educating children to live to meet life's challenges. My name is Jaya Bottaro and I am the Co-Director of the Living Wisdom School here in Nevada City, California and I'm also part of the Education for Life team.


My name is Usha Dermond and I'm a former teacher here at the Living Wisdom School in Nevada City California, also former principal of our school in Portland Oregon and author of Calm and Compassionate Children and my latest book, Awake and Ready: How to Work with Energy and Motivate Anyone.

The Difference Between Excitement and Happiness

Today we want to talk about excitement versus happiness, because, you know, it's really easy to confuse excitement and happiness. When we're excitedly anticipating something we think well, we're happy about it, right? But and we might be, it might be a centered kind of anticipation, but often it's just it's an agitated sort of energy.

I remember the first time that I became really super aware of this, I had just read something about excitement and happiness being confused. And I walked out of the school that day after the end of the day and parents and kids were still out in the play area the parking lot, you know ...getting ready to leave... but the kids were just running around wild.

Not that they don't always run around, but there was just a wild energy to it. And I thought, "What's going on?" You know, I could just feel something. I didn't know what. Nobody was angry or anything like that, but it didn't feel calm for sure. And so I asked one of the teachers, "Hey what's going on? why are the kids like this?" and she said, "Oh, so-and-so's having a birthday party this afternoon." Oh, okay.

So they were all excited about the birthday party. Nothing wrong with that. But if you are a parent you know, I'm sure, how oftentimes, maybe at Christmastime or a birthday party, kids get really excited, agitated about some coming attraction outside of themselves that's going to make them happy, and they get off their center, and at the end of the day when it's all over it ends up that a terrible mood, even crying, even a disagreement.

How many of you seen that in the end of Christmas Day, or it could be anytime... anytime kids had gotten worked up. Have you noticed anything like that in your...?

The Crash After Excessive Excitement


Yeah, yeah. Well I'm thinking that, you know, the energy that goes up, it needs to come back to even out. So the more up, then the more down, sooner than later. And I think we all experience this with kids and with ourselves.



Avoid Over-Exciting Kids: Ask Questions, Keep Things Low Key


And I know sometimes kids aren't... not all kids are excitable that way, and I've seen parents actually excite their kids and I'm thinking , "Oh, try to avoid that!" And it's with good intention, you know, like, "Aren't you excited that whatever is gonna happen?" And maybe instead of that you could say, "Are you looking forward to it?" or, "Which part are you looking forward to it?" or, "What do you think is going to be the most fun part?" instead of building up the energy that you know...


It's not let down.


Yes, exactly, exactly, yeah.

The Optimal State: Relaxed Alertness


Another way to look at it is, in going back to title of my book, Awake and Ready, what is the ideal state that anybody, kids or adults, can be in? And, of course, well, the ideal state's something superconscious, beyond our imagination probably. But I like to think of it as relaxed alertness.

And so you're alert but you're relaxed. So you're alert for the party. What's going to happen? Are we going to play this? Are we going to do that? But there's not that sense of inner agitation. It's relaxation. And in that state we certainly learn the best.

Forgetting Oneself and Just Being Engaged

And I think it's really important that parents recognize that when a kid is alert but relaxed and totally engaged—that's another word. And when you're really engaged in something, then you forget yourself and you forget...the ego goes out the window. You're just totally at one with whatever you're doing, whether it's building a model or playing soccer or drawing, reading, whatever it is, there's that relaxed alertness, one-pointed concentration where we just forget ourselves.

The Concept of "Flow"

And it reminds me of the...there's a psychologist, Czechoslovakian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi I think is his name, something like that, who was like one of the fathers of positive psychology. He and Maslow were two of the earliest to look at..., rather than looking at aberrations and mentally ill people, they looked at people who were joyful, happy, accomplishing things. They looked at those states. And he called that state flow.

And that's how I'd like to see it or think of it. And it really helped me when I started thinking that way, because I could see when kids were in that state and what things then they really benefited from and loved, and wouldn't interrupt them or would give them more opportunities for those activities.

So, I think it's really important also to observe ourselves and see when we reached that state of engagement, awake and ready but not agitated, not overly excited, but rather just engaged. Engaged is the right word for it.

Quoting Swami Kriyananda on Excitement vs. Fulfillment

So I have a quote, from... let's see, yes, this is from Demystifying Patanjali by Swami Kriyananda. And I think this is very much to the point:

"Modern living leads us to confuse fulfillment with excitement. From excitement, however, it says tension. And tension causes all happiness to vanish. The thrill of the imaginary happiness that people equate with excitement, shatters their nerves and fills them with suppressed fears that emerge with the exhaustion that follows after their emotional jumping up and down."

So, notice yourself! See if that's true with you. And and think about, "Okay, how can I reach that far better, stable state of true happiness?"


Thank you for joining us today, and if you have any comments and questions feel free to leave them down in the comments section. If you like this video, find it helpful, give us a thumbs up and subscribe. And thank you, for now, and remember to say, "I'm awake and ready to meet life's lessons and challenges in joy."




If you seek a holistic approach to enhance children's learning, Awake and Ready is a must-read. Empower the next generation with the transformative potential of energy-based learning. Give this video a thumbs up and share it with parents, teachers, and anyone dedicated to nurturing young minds. Let's embrace the power of Awake and Ready together!

#EnergyBasedLearning #AwakeAndReady #SusanDermond #YogicPrinciples #ParamhansaYogananda #Parenting #TeacherResources #HolisticEducation #PositiveGrowth #BookReview #EducationForLife #EmpoweringChildren #MindfulParenting #AlternativeEducation #BookTube #Bookish #BookWorld #BookRecommendations #BookNerds #EducationCommunity