BY Katie Marshall
We often explain happiness as a type of explosion. Things that bring us joy are a catalyst. “I’m so happy, I could burst!” “I am having the best day! I feel like I could explode!” Happiness feels like such an awe-inspiring thing that it must expand hugely, beyond our bodies, outside of our spheres of understanding and even physical boundaries. Happiness is fireworks, happiness is flying, happiness is confetti falling from the ceiling. It always seems like something extraordinary, implausible, and certainly too big for us to handle.
Joy can feel like a burst. Tears, screams, singing, even laughter – all of the physical responses we have to big beautiful happiness seem to explode out of us. And yet so much of what we study and know of happiness is that it must come from within – it must live and exist within us. Happiness can be a big moment, surprising even, but it’s also a small choice to be made again and again.
Perhaps we equate happiness with a big boom because we don’t feel big enough to house it within ourselves. When we put happiness on a pedestal reserved for winning the lottery and finding our soul mates, then it may feel like as though we do not have the flexible infrastructure to hold such big moments. But what if the idea that happiness was only the big deals leads us to an unfounded fear? If we are afraid of exploding into confetti over happiness – messy and exposed in front of people – then maybe we avoid these moments sometimes. A fear of happiness could be a fear of showing too much of ourselves, all of our parts exposed and scattered on the ground. After all, we’re human beings. We like to feel comfortable. Few of us feel safe in a mess.
So what if we don’t have to explode with happiness? What if we could ingest it and cultivate it and multiply it organically, all within the space that we take up?
What if we are big enough for happiness? So big, in fact, that happiness could live comfortably inside of us without having to expand beyond our physical parameters? What if we are enough, just as we are?
And if not, what if we didn’t explode at all, even at the biggest, most joyful moments? What if instead, we expanded to fit all of the happiness there is to be enjoyed and consumed within us? If we are made of the same gases and magic as stars, then we have the room of the infinite sky to expand in equal ration to the practically impractical beauty that is feeling full of joy without ever having to explode.