There’s a lot of talk about happy.
Discussions about positive psychology are often connected with this word, Gillian Rubenstein discusses it in her book (well as she might, given the book is called ‘The Happiness Project’). And there’s a lot of hearty debate amongst researchers about how to define it.
I don’t like it.
It feels like a lazy word for me, a word that bundles up lots of states and tries to put them under one big marquee with its own banner at the entrance.
I rarely feel like ‘happy’ is a useful descriptor when I’m navigating my own life.
I notice that times I feel ebullient and optimistic, light like a balloon, and full of possibility.
Soemtimes I feel excited about an event or a yearning or looking forward to.
Sometimes I feel particularly rested and well nourished and I notice how grounded, gracious and settled I feel in this state.
Sometimes I feel poetic sweetness around me, and notice tiny flecks of beauty scattered about.
In relationships I sometimes feel aware of how warm, appreciative, connected and content I feel.
Sormtimes I feel playful and creative impulse, humour and movement all flow through me, and I laugh more readily, ape around and make jokes.
Sometimes I feel relieved, when something hard is done with, or stress waters subside after a big downpour of challenges.
Sometimes I feel tender, like sad and moved and sweet all at once.
Sometimes I feel held and seen and safe, so that even feeling ‘bad’ feelings feels OK.
Sometimes I get satisfaction from having done something, I get a thrill of adventure, sometimes a sense of satisfaction or a glow of a value being enacted.
So, it’s not that I don’t like being happy, feeling happy, or using the word happy but just that there is so much more nuance to feeling good, feeling well.
In art therapy we use metaphor and imagery to explore and express how we feel. It’s not always black and white – we see mirrored back in our images that we can be experiencing a mix of feelings at any given time. We might also look to our bodies for tension or sensations, and use this to help us sense into how we feel emotionally about an issue.
What does happy and its many friends feel like to you?