If you are older than, say thirty, you have most likely heard the song ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ by Bobby McFerrin. It was released in 1988. Um, so, maybe you haven’t heard it unless you are closer in age to forty, though the song has been used countless times in television and film since. Anyway, the quote ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ while made famous [at the time] by Bobby McFerrin was originally coined much earlier in the twentieth century by Meher Baba, an Indian spiritual master. It is such a simple sentiment, and can be blamed for encouraging a philosophy of denial of reality [ignorance is bliss after all], but a certain abandonment of worrying [about those things we cannot change] can be liberating. Thus, adding to our overall happiness. To build on Meher Baba’s sentiment, here are five more ways to be happy. And, not one of them involves listening to the song you now no doubt cannot get out of your head, nor do they encourage a conscious leap into oblivion.
Concentrate on the things you can control, not the things you can’t. We only have control over our own actions. Worrying about things that are beyond our control is a waste of time, energy and emotions. Generally speaking, you have little to no influence over what other people think. Therefore, don’t worry about what they think or say about you. By and large, you cannot change how other people act, either. In the colloquial wisdom of contemporary songster, Taylor Swift, ‘…..the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, I shake it off, I shake it off…..’. Shake it off.
Let go of the past. Don’t ruminate. What is done, is done. If there is a lesson to be learned, great. Then and otherwise, move on. You cannot change the past, and perhaps you can’t forget what’s happened [and depending on what it is, maybe you shouldn’t either], but never let the past prevent you from moving toward a positive present and future. Unless you live under a rock, you must have heard the following lyrics from a song featured in Disney’s animated film, Frozen, performed by Idina Menzel, ‘…..let it go, let it go! Can’t hold it back any more. Let it go, let it go! Turn away and slam the door. I don’t care what they’re going to say…….’. Let it go.
Find the silver lining. When times are hard and you don’t think that you could possibly feel any worse, remind yourself that you can and will get through this. Remember what you do have, what you have accomplished, not what you don’t have, was taken from you or that you have lost. Learning a lesson from what has happened, is a silver lining. Having to replace something you have lost, could lead you to finding something that is better, is a silver lining. Katy Perry sings it best in her hit, Firework, ‘…..you don’t have to feel like a wasted space, you’re original, cannot be replaced…..baby, you’re a firework, come on, show ’em what you’re worth…..’.
Be kind. Do unto others as you would have them do; that’s the Sunday School version. Now for a cliché; kindness really can breed kindness. Of course, only the naive would expect this to work out 100% of the time. So, if someone isn’t kind in return, you should still feel better about yourself if you rose above and exercised kindness. According to the New Radicals in You Get What You Give, ‘…..don’t give up, you’ve got a reason to live, can’t forget you only get what you give…..’.
Make your own happiness a priority. If you are like most, you probably put others’ needs before your own; whether it be your spouse, your children, your friends or your boss. You also probably make excuses for neglecting yourself, because you don’t have time, you are too busy to think about anything else, and so on. If you don’t value your own happiness, how can you expect anyone else to? Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to stop being considerate of others. It really is possible to balance your needs with those of the other demands in your life. You just need to make a concerted effort not to lose sight of your own wellbeing in the regular chaos of daily life. Finally, it wouldn’t be right to feature songs with a happiness theme in 2014 without sharing Pharrell Williams’ Happy lyrics, ‘…..here come bad news talking this and that, yeah, well, give me all you got, and don’t hold it back, yeah, well, I should probably warn you I’ll be just fine, yeah, no offense to you, don’t waste your time, here’s why, because I’m happy…..’.
Don’t Worry [So Much, It’s Better To] Be Happy.