The song “Don’t worry, be happy” by Bobby McFerrin (Released in1998), has been on my ‘favourites’ list for a long time (since around 1998). Nowadays I often hum it out loud when I’m walking with my dog, up a mountain trail or on the beach. The tune puts a smile on my face every time I hear it and makes me feel good about life, the universe and everything.
In fact, I like it so much; it should be a motto, a mantra, a maxim (choose one). But to me the phrase “don’t worry, be happy” isn’t quite right, it feels incomplete. It’s missing a catalyst. It needs something to make the transition, from the dark ‘worried’ side of the ‘feelings’ spectrum, to the light ‘happy’ one, possible. It needs a bit of magic…
Being someone who sees himself as an outdoor activist, experiencing bouts of happiness mostly when ‘doing something out there’, the magical ingredient would I would add is: “being active”. Doing so, I end up with: “Don’t worry, be active & happy!” To me this feels right. “Why?” you ask, well, let me elaborate:
The “Don’t worry” part: Baz Luhrmann’s song: “Everybody’s free (to wear sunscreen) (Released in 1999) nailed the concept of worrying on the head. “Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.”. Feeling troubled because you’re thinking about real or possible difficult situations doesn’t change the situation. Worrying is not pleasant nor is it productive. It’s a waste of time!
The “Be active” part: Like I mentioned before, I see myself as somewhat of an outdoor activist, playing in the great outdoors both in my spare time and professionally (I have one of those jobs where people often ask: “Are you actually getting paid to do this?”). Being physically active is thus a big part of my life. Quoting Baz again: “Enjoy your body, use it everyway you can… don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own…” By using your body, being active, your brain gets a regular change of scenery and some time to put things into perspective.
The “& happy!” part: I think happiness is A): a temporary state of being, a fleeting ‘feeling or showing of pleasure’ (as my dictionary describes it). I experience this ‘fleeting’ happy feeling every time I’m standing on top of a towering rock, after I just finished climbing the route to the top. The pleasure comes from achievement (and a bit of adrenaline) B): being content (a comfortable feeling of satisfaction which tends to linger).
I experience this “lingering” happy feeling whenever I’m paddling down a mellow river, literally ‘going with the flow’ in my kayak (sometimes paddling hard upstream, sometimes not paddling at all downstream). The satisfaction comes from the combination of equal parts action and relaxation. It makes me feel good (and there’s not single worry on my mind). Doesn’t this make you want to go ‘out there’?