u3a (University of the Third Age) – Carate Brianza – 18 Oct.

WORDS & MUSIC             

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Here’s a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don’t worry, be happy
In every life we have some trouble
But when you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy
Don’t worry, be happy now

Ain’t got no place to lay your head
Somebody came and took your bed
Don’t worry, be happy
The landlord say your rent is late
He may have to litigate
Don’t worry, be happy

(Look at me, I’m happy, don’t worry, be happy
Here I give you my phone number, when you worry, call me,
I make you happy, don’t worry, be happy)
Ain’t got no cash, ain’t got no style
Ain’t got no gal to make you smile
Don’t worry, be happy
‘Cause when you worry your face will frown
And that will bring everybody down
Don’t worry, be happy

(Don’t worry, don’t worry, don’t do it
Be happy, put a smile on your face
Don’t bring everybody down
Don’t worry, it will soon pass, whatever it is
Don’t worry, be happy
I’m not worried, I’m happy)

In 1988, Bobby McFerrinwrote one of the most beloved anthems to happiness of all time. Released in September that year,  “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” became the first a cappella (without instruments) song to reach number 1 on the Billboard Top 100 Chart. (The chart, published by Billboard magazine, is a list of the 100 most popular songs in the U.S).  The song’s title is taken from a famous quotation by Meher Baba. An Indian . mystic and sage

This song is not only a feel-good tune, but it is full of neuroscience and psychology insights on happiness that McFerrin  embedded in its lyrics, whether consciously or not.

The song showed up  on the Brain Pickings  web site and neurologist Maria Popova, analyzed and explained  some of the lyrics and the scientific advice they give for personal well-being

Here are some of the lines from the song and what she says we can learn from them:

 In every life we have some trouble – When you worry you make it double

Our tendency to add more stress to our stress by dwelling on it is known in Buddhism as the second arrow and its eradication is a cornerstone of mindfulness practice. Recent research has found  that when  thinking constantly  about things that we’re worried has prolonged negative cardiac effects (a 2006 study linked worrying to heart disease.)

Here, I give you my phone number – When you worry call me – I make you happy

Multiple studies have confirmed the positive correlation between social support and well-being; there’s probably nothing better than having a friend to talk to when we’re worried about something. Social support (encouragement and help from other people) protects people from the  negative effects of stressful events

Harvard physician Nicholas Christakis has  studied the surprising power of our social networks, finding profound and long-term correlation between the well-being, both physical and mental, of those with whom we choose to surround ourselves

Cause when you worry- Your face will frown – And that will bring everybody down

Scientists tell us that we often mirror, or reflect, what we see other people do. Mirror neurons  fire not only when we perform a behavior, but also when we observe that behavior in others. In other words the expressed emotions of others trigger  a reflection of these emotions in us. Frowns, it turns out, are indeed contagious. So, we can encourage each other by choosing to smile:

Put a smile on your face

There’s a popular piece of advice that says “fake it (pretend) ‘till you make it (succeed)”. Science tells us that if we think and act the way we want to feel, we will often experience the feeling we’re looking for. In other words, if we act happy, we’ll often become happy. Paul Ekman, , who pioneered the study of facial expressions, found  that voluntarily producing a smile may help deliberately generate the psychological change that takes place during spontaneous positive affect:  emulating  the emotions we’d like to feel can help us internalize and embody those emotions

Don’t worry, it will soon pass  – Whatever it is

In 1983, UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles)  Shelley E. Taylor proposed  a theory of cognitive adaptation to threatening events, stating that we grossly overestimate the negative effect of things that happen to us, from cancer to divorce to paralysis, and return to our previous levels of happiness shortly after these negative events take place. Another psychologist wrote that “negative events do affect us, but they generally don’t affect us as much or for as long as we expect them to.”



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