Expressing happiness

I realised recently that I’ve developed an emotional tic of biting my lip. Not an anxiety thing, but as a way of controlling the insane grin that’s liable to break across my face at odd moments when I relax. I notice this a lot while I’m out and about, walking to work, doing the shopping. It’s less a problem in business meetings — that’s no surprise!

cartwheelAnd I notice it in yoga class also. I sometimes feel so buzzingly energetic I want to do something crazy to let out all this excitement. My impulse is to get up, leave class, sprint round the carpark, throw a few cartwheels, and only then try to carry on the focussed work of practice. I don’t of course! Though if I could actually cartwheel it might be a different matter….

I used to think that increasing the amount of time I felt ‘happy’ (however we define that) was irrefutably desirable, and decreasing the amount of time I felt the opposite must be equally A Good Thing. And to be sure much is written (and many a dollar made, no doubt) in creating materials and courses aimed at increasing one’s happiness levels, as if this is the holy grail of existence.

But nothing’s that simple or black and white — or my hard-to-please brain won’t let it be.

Now, I feel happy alot these days, and don’t get me wrong, I’m…er… pretty happy about that! I don’t know where it’s come from and I try not to think about it too hard. Just in case I spook it and it leaves me…! But what’s surprising is how difficult it is for me to live with this happiness.

I find it difficult to express how I feel. And I almost feel guilty at feeling so good within myself.  Somehow I feel I shouldn’t be so happy or I shouldn’t obviously be so happy. Hence my new lip-biting habit. But happy people can be really annoying, right? Like being the only sober person at a party, being around happy folk can be very challenging. It can make people feel inadequate. And I’m amused (of course!!) to have read somewhere that happiness is often mistaken for stupidity — you’re not clever enough to see how awful the world really is…

What a funny problem to have!

And as a sharp, almost painful, contrast to this strange euphoria of mine, someone close to me is struggling daily with quite severe depression. I listen to him as often as he comes to me, and I try to offer whatever reassurance and simple presence that I can. I can empathise a certain amount from my personal experience. But right now I can’t really remember what that degree of pain feels like. He too has developed a tic, that of biting his nails and drawing his hands up to his face, almost as though he’s hiding his eyes from the world. And his hands tremble as he does so. I don’t doubt he feels crushed by despair every bit as acutely as I feel about to burst with a simple joy.

It all seems so disproportionate and so uneven. I almost wish I could mix us together and come out with two balanced beings. I wish I could do something to ease his suffering, but I have nothing to offer. I feel inadequate and it’s simply terrible to see someone in so much pain and confusion. But I still feel happy deep inside.

So my current happiness is inexplicable, seems no help to anyone and is oddly difficult to hold in ways I would never have imagined. What a weird world. It’s enough to make me smile. 🙂

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