Sometimes you stumble across a word with an old English origin that requires an inquiry into its meaning. Alacrity is one of those words. Its’ definition is enthusiasm, promptness and cheerfulness. Shakespeare used alacrity to define the lack of enthusiasm of King Richard the III when he wrote, “I have not the alacrity of spirit/nor cheer of mind that I wont to have.”

Alacrity comes for the Latin word alacer which means, “Lively.” It means to have physical quickness harnessed with enthusiasm and eagerness. What a great word to discover especially in the New Year when eagerness and enthusiasm of spirit and cheerfulness of mind is at its peak. Combine this with the quickness of your physical movement and you can use it to express your joy. But it is so interesting how a word can be turned on its head just as Shakespeare did with King Richard III.

Another author used the word with a spin. Randall Kennedy, Atlantic, May 1997 wrote,

“Surely one of the most striking features of human dynamics is the alacrity with which those who have been oppressed will oppress whomever they can once the opportunity presents itself.”

Oh how we humans have the power to vent our enthusiasm is so many different ways. The alacrity of revenge is so powerful it can become our overriding master. The lack of alacrity when reaching for a goal is akin to taking the wind from our sails.

How do we keep enthusiasm and eagerness in a world that challenges us with what sometimes seems like insurmountable obstacles? How do we prevent the eagerness and enthusiasm of revenge from enslaving us into a world of an eye for an eye?

When presented with a challenge it is the soul that keeps the physical world moving and the mental world focused. It is also the soul that reminds us that two wrongs do not make a right.  When compassion and understanding join force with alacrity the world yields to the expression of joy.

Learning something new like a new word and then understanding how it can be turned and twisted to describe contrasting elements of life reminds us how easy it is to twist, turn and spin anything to suit our bias and prejudices. Alacrity means enthusiasm and eagerness leading to joy. It also can be used to inflict harm with the same force of eagerness and enthusiasm. The difference is that joy received through vengeful harm is short lived where joy received through spirit and cheer brings everlasting pleasure to everyone. When the eager spirit enthusiastically spreads good cheer everyone feels the positive power of alacrity.

Words have simple definitions that can be twisted and misused. They are the most powerful weapons in life. It has been said that the wound of an arrow heals, but the wound from words last forever, so choose your words carefully and use them wisely. Here’s hoping the New Year bring you the positive promptness, enthusiasm and cheerful ness of alacrity. It’s just a word, but its use is powerful!

Namaste ~ may the New Year bring you; health, happiness and peace

Doctor Lynn

coming soon – Karma – how to change what you do so you get what you want