Happiness is here, in the now. It is the “truth”. The tragedy is you are unhappy because you are not present in the now!
I remember a story. There once lived a boy, whose family was very wealthy. His father was a workaholic who only wanted to ensure that he made more and more money and that all his wealth was safe. He had no time for his wife and son. One day the father took the boy on a trip to the country, where he aimed to show his son, how poor people live. The father hoped that if the son understood poverty he would grow up to be a responsible lad and a worthy successor to him. So they arrived at the farm of a very poor family, as regarded by the father. They spent a few days there. Upon returning home, the father asked his son if he liked the trip.
“Oh, it was great, dad,” the boy replied.
“Did you notice, how poor people live,” asked the father.
“Yeah, I did,” said the boy.
The father asked his son to enlist his learnings from the trip.
The boy took a deep breath and went on to share his learnings: “Well, we have only one dog, and they have four of them. In our garden there is a pool, while they have a river, that has no end. We’ve got expensive lanterns, but they have stars above their heads at night. We have the patio, and they have the whole horizon. We have only a small piece of land, while they have the endless fields. We buy food, but they grow it. We have a high fence for protection of our property, and they don‘t need it, as their friends protect them. They are always happy.”
The father was stunned. He could not say a word.
Then the boy added: “Thank you, dad, for letting me see how poor and how unhappy we are.”
The boy spoke a truth that we often don’t see. In our obsession to build our careers and accumulate assets we are sometimes missing out on simply being – happy! Happiness has become a pursuit whereas it is always within you. Imagine wearing your glasses on your forehead and searching for them all over the house. That’s what we are doing with happiness as well. We can be happy right away, just now, but we are so consumed by our work, careers, meetings and schedules that we end up missing that opportunity to be happy in each moment that we are alive.
My young daughter recently introduced me to Pharrell Williams whose song “Happy” (from Despicable Me 2 / G I R L) is a big hit on social media. I heard the song and instantly liked it. It has simple lyrics and the most significant part of the song, the hook, gets you going…
…Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do…
Virginia-born Williams, a song-writer, rapper and musician, is just 40 but he sure knows what people across the want to be. They want to be happy. Williams’ “Happy” song has become the template for thousands of videos and covers on YouTube that show people in different settings, from different backgrounds, in different countries and cities just letting go and sharing with us what they do when they are happy. The videos have a certain beauty – a rawness, a refreshing, energizing quality in them. They are cool because the people in them are not acting. They are just themselves – being who they are and happy! In the “Happy Bangalore” video, for instance, the conductor and driver of a KSRTC bus are goofing off, grooving to Williams’ song. In another Indian city, a middle-aged lady is really enjoying her jig on the street. To me, Williams’ idea of the song and his appeal to people to “clap along if you know what happiness is to you” is the best thing that could have happened to the world in recent times. Whether it is Barcelona or Berlin or Bangalore or Boston, people are shedding all their inhibitions, letting go of all their pain and worries, and are showing off how happy they are. Sustaining this energy and continuing to be happy despitethe circumstances will require a more determined, personal effort! But at least Williams, like a Pied Piper, has led the way.
Catch the “Happy” virus here Pharrell Williams Happy and hopefully we will see your own cover version of the song on YouTube soon?