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How to Be Happy

Here's a newer version of "Don't Worry, Be Happy" performed by children around the world with Playing For Change. Guaranteed to make you smile!

In the late 1980s there was a popular song by Bobby McFerrin called “Don't Worry, Be Happy." When I first heard this McFerrin tune, I’d repeat the chorus aloud or in my head. He made being happy seem so easy.

It is quite amazing how many people (who apparently have all of their needs met) find that happiness eludes them. Happiness is one of the most examined areas of study in history. It’s written about in fiction and nonfiction books, as well as in academic publications.

As spiritual beings, we are predisposed to be happy. But it seems as though over time, we’ve forgotten that happiness is based on common sense. Often, what is common sense is not necessarily common practice. So we struggle to express the happiness that is part of our divine nature.

There are practices we can use to get our happy on at any time and any place.

First, it is important to understand that happiness is influenced by how we look at the past, the present and the future.

We are more likely to experience happiness when we can look at the past with gratitude—even if we met challenges, struggles or turmoil along the way. Whatever happened, happened.

If we can fully accept and make peace with our past, we can see it not as a tombstone, but as a stepping-stone to greater good. This allows us to be free in the present. Being in the present is what allows us to be happy. This is why forgiveness is so powerful. It releases the baggage from our past.

When we are free in the present, we are able to be fully engaged in what we are doing each and every moment of our day. It gives us the opportunity to focus on whatever we are most passionate about and interested in.

Nearly all spiritual teachings remind us that to be happy, we must be fully accepting and present to the here and now.

This does not mean we don’t think about the future. But how we see the future matters. Our perspective on the future should be one of positive expectancy and excitement about what’s to come. This is the case even if the future seems a little scary and we don’t know exactly how it’s going to turn out. We can say, “I don’t know precisely what the future will bring, but I know in the end it’s going to be good. I’m excited about it.”

If we don’t find something to be excited about tomorrow, it has nothing to do with the reality of tomorrow. It has everything to do with our mindset. Many unhappy people have wallowed in a sea of pessimism for so long they’ve drowned out hope. We must always remember that there is magic to life. We must look for something about our future that we can get excited about. That excitement is experienced in the here and now.

Part of being happy is to make sure we are physically and emotionally healthy. Again, many of the things we can do are common sense but are not always practiced. Scientific studies remind us that healthy habits include getting plenty of sleep (seven or eight hours a night), drinking enough water, taking breaks throughout the day by standing up and not sitting down for excessive stretches of time, exercising two to four times a week, eating more greens and reducing our sugar intake. Admittedly, that last one is a challenge for me—I love nearly anything chocolate.

Finally, spiritually, it is important to have a sense of connection with and gratitude for something bigger than ourselves. We can look beyond the small self and allow ourselves to be amazed and awed by the mystery of the grand universe we have the privilege to be part of. Suddenly, our so-called problems don’t seem so big anymore.

With that realization, we can fully embody Bobby McFerrin’s words, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

Peace and Blessings,


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