Pattern #24


We invite your participation in evolving this pattern language with us. Use the comment section at the bottom of this page to comment on its contents or to share related ideas and resources.

Pattern Card

Click to enlarge or download Pattern Card.

Exuberance Card - version 1


To download the 70 pattern cards, an overview, and the complete Wise Democracy Pattern Language use the DOWNLOAD button.


Individual wisdom is closely associated with rationality, compassion, and broad awareness. These are also fundamental to collective wisdom. But quality of life is central to the goal of wise democracy, and life energy and creativity are central to its achievement. So initiate, join, appreciate and support vibrant expressions of aliveness.

Related: 3 Appropriate Innovation, 14 Context Awareness, 48 Prudent Use of Power-Over, 54 Self-Organization, 59 Synergy Between Part and Whole, 64 Using Diversity and Disturbance Creatively, 66 Well-Utilized Life Energy

Going deeper …

This is an edited version of the video on this page.

Imagine this older guy sitting there reflecting on the world with this broad sense of “I love the world” with this centered compassionate well-lined expression on his face. Images like that have this “seen it all” quality which, in different kinds of ways, gives us the sense that that’s where such people’s wisdom comes from. There is a sober, centered calm quality to that expression, and it radiates a kind of rational seeing and thinking, a balanced sensibility that isn’t going to let things get out of hand here.

These qualities are as fundamental to collective wisdom as they are to individual wisdom. We don’t want to go overboard on anything. We want to have a certain level of caution. The sense of “safety first” is very present, a prudent approach to wildness and chaos.

But let’s face it:  Life in its most alive sense has a certain level of wildness and chaos. And exuberance is a bursting forth, a vibrancy, a feeling of wasteful abundance: there is too much of everything. That is part of what is rich about life, that makes life worth living.

We are trying to create broad long-term benefits here, and that can’t just be mere survival. It has to be more like “life is meaningful and rich and we love it!!” We love being alive, we want to see what the next day brings, we want to express and actualize ourselves to the fullest. We want all our diverse lives to be blossoming into greater life.

That’s different for everybody.  For me it has a lot to do with ideas but there are all sorts of other forms of alive expression. We want to have that diversity and energy in our wise democracy. We are not just sitting around deliberating all the time. We are enjoying life. And people’s energy and creativity, their passion about things, is one of the main tools for seeing what needs to be done and actually doing it. (There is a whole other pattern discussing that: Well-utilized Life Energy.)

People bring their energy to wise democratic activity that drives them into the kind of thinking and feeling and work that will create the world we want. So that energy is a major factor both in the shape of the world that we want and in the shaping the world that we want. Both have an element of exuberance, life energy, creativity, expression attached to them. So we want to keep that going, we want to support all vibrant expressions of aliveness.

But we also need to not have people’s diverse exuberance blow everything out of the water. We want it to feed not just what we are trying to do but the understanding of the bigger picture within which we are trying to do what we are doing. So that’s the sense that people who are too creative, too chaotic, occupy the fringes of society. But we don’t diss the fringes.  We value them even though we might contain or constrain some of the energy there. We value the fringes for bringing in the element of wild life and new ways of behaving and thinking about things so that we never become too solidified – because life is constantly changing and we need to be flexible. These people challenge us to be flexible.

Video Introduction (7 min)

Examples and Resources

Dancing, performance, all the arts, vigorous enjoyment of anything and everything,… wildness of usually positive expression is very desirable and supported. There’s not a particular method for making people exuberant there’s more like methods for not stopping it, or for channeling it in ways that serve life and don’t destroy life.

Being willing to ride that edge – “the edge of chaos” – where we know that if we do too much chaos our lives and societies will disperse into the environment, we will cease to be able hold our form and we’ll die. On the other hand, if we have too much order, we become too solid and can’t respond to changing conditions and we’ll die. So life gravitates to that border between order and chaos.  And therefore quality exuberance comes from a very strong sense of aliveness that rides that edge. It will test the limits of order – the Kokopelli character, the people and groups who are always testing with humor, wildness and extreme perspectives. There are a lot of comedians, musicians, sometimes actors, who will test the edge of what’s acceptable but not destroy it. It’s not a smashing down that is going on; it is a testing the edge.

Exuberance is largely valuable both for its freedom of flow of life and for testing the edges of the kinds of conclusions and order and predictability that we try to bring into our lives.