Admittedly, I never really thought about the lyrical wisdom expressed in Bobby McFerrin’s 1988 hit song. Sure, the catchy, upbeat tune makes you want to smile and whistle along — which, funnily enough, takes your mind off worries and engenders happiness.
But is it really that easy? Is achieving happiness as simple as not worrying and choosing to be happy?
Turns out McFerrin’s four-word maxim nails it.
Worry (aka “anxiety”) is based on fear — fear of the unknown, fear of the future. But there’s little we can do to prepare for unforeseen or uncertain situations except live fully in the present moment. Through awareness of what’s going on here and now, we can direct our thoughts and actions toward the best possible outcome.
If it’s within our power to change what’s to come, there’s no need to worry. And if we can’t do anything about the situation, worrying is pointless. Either way, worry is a waste of time and energy.
Here’s a nifty diagram to illustrate:
Bottom line: there’s never a reason to worry.
Worrying doesn’t solve problems or prevent mishaps. So don’t worry.
As for the other part of McFerrin’s mantra — “be happy” — fortunately we’re able to choose our thoughts, and therefore choose our feelings. Happiness is a choice because we have the power to let go of negativity and focus our minds on positive, life-affirming thinking.
We can let go of worry and fear; we’re free to choose happiness.
Don’t worry. Be happy.
Simple as that. 🙂