Three Reasons Euphoria Sucks

Three Reasons Euphoria Sucks

Euphoria is different from happiness.  It’s an overwhelming feeling of well-being that blocks out all other sensations.  That may sound like a good thing.

 

As a performer and creative person, I’ve come to learn that it isn’t.  Generally, euphoria does only short-term good at best, and it’s debatable whether it even does that.  Here are three reasons why I think euphoria actually sucks.

 

  1. It gets me focused on the wrong thing

 

Typically, when I feel euphoric, it means I’m focused on my own emotions, not the emotions of the people I’m performing for.  This is a problem because, if I am thinking entirely about myself, I have no way of connecting with my audience except blind luck.  In fact, it’s worse than that.

 

If I am euphoric, I am thinking about emotions, and not the job I have to do.  At best, the euphoria distracts me from doing my job, and at worst it prevents me from doing it.  I’ve learned that when I feel euphoric, that sensation is usually covering the fact that I’m about to mess up because I’ve lost my concentration, or it’s my way of hiding from the emotions I feel when I’m not doing something well.

 

2)  Euphoria isn’t real

 

I’ve established that euphoria is not happiness.  Happiness is a complex sensation that is connected to many things:  flow, expectation, connection.  Despite its druglike effect, euphoria is the opposite of that.

 

Euphoria prevents connections, ignores expectations and blocks the timeless sensation of flow.  It is a cheap substitute for happiness and, as I’ve mentioned before, serves in my case to mask unhappiness.  This is not a sensation to be cultivated.

 

3)  It doesn’t last

 

After euphoria works its magic on me, I typically create or play at a lower level.  At that point, I either mess up or lose the train, at which point the consequences of my lapse fall on me.  I notice the disconnection with other musicians, or see their discomfort as I miss notes.

 

And when the euphoria’s gone, it’s like a drug withdrawal.  It’s painful and feels like the absence of something that took care of me.  I’m worse off than I was before.

 

I see euphoria as the other side of the despair coin.  If anything, it’s worse because it’s desirable and seductive.  It’s harder to look euphoria in the eye and say, “Go away” the way I might do with despair.

 

It can be done.  In fact, learning to see through euphoria can be good practice for learning to see through despair.  It’s a fact of my existence in any case, and I have to live with it.


Do you share my distrust of euphoria?  Do you like it?  Do you think it has any redeeming characteristics that I’ve missed? 

1 comment

  • Darcy

    Darcy

    I actually looked up euphoria in the dictionary to make sure I had the same understanding of the word because I largely didn't recognize the experiences you shared. The definition I found simply said a state of intense happiness and self-confidence. I often have what I call "perfect moments" on stage, and after a particularly awesome performance I'll ride what I call a "post-concert high". Those experiences are definitely euphoric. But I suppose the difference is that I don't go looking for them...they are the icing on the cake. If you mean you can't make euphoria the basis or goal for what you do creatively, I completely agree with you!

    I actually looked up euphoria in the dictionary to make sure I had the same understanding of the word because I largely didn't recognize the experiences you shared. The definition I found simply said a state of intense happiness and self-confidence. I often have what I call "perfect moments" on stage, and after a particularly awesome performance I'll ride what I call a "post-concert high". Those experiences are definitely euphoric. But I suppose the difference is that I don't go looking for them...they are the icing on the cake. If you mean you can't make euphoria the basis or goal for what you do creatively, I completely agree with you!

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