DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY… ain't that simple
I bet you love this song. How couldn't you? So simple, so optimistic and so true. Or at least this is what I thought when I was a youngster listening to it on repeat.
I've learned two important things about this song since then
- Don't bet! It's Bobby McFerrin's song, not Bob Marley's. Learning worth of my own $10. Free for you. You're welcome.
- More importantly, if we stop worrying, it doesn't necessarily mean that we will be happy. Or at least ain't that simple.
Bobby was indisputably right that we worry too much. Especially about stuff that actually don't matter much to our wellbeing. House, new car, what other people think about us, you name it. Research shows that these circumstances play just a tiny role in our overall happiness.
It used to be simpler with our happiness, one of my favorite psychologist Dan Gilbert says.
We had just 2 big worries —
What will I eat? Where will I sleep tonight? It was also generally accepted that happiness is something that comes after death, in heaven.
It’s a bit different now. At least in the developed world. Our key questions and worries look more like this:
- What makes me happy?
- What should I do with my life?
- With whom should I spend my time? …
Pretty tough questions, right? And, it seems that we struggle while answering them.
- 1 in 10 American adults suffer from some form of depression.
- $179,000,000,000 was spent on mental health services in the US last year.
- Not even talking about divorce rates and number of people who hate their jobs.
This is where Bobby’s “don’t worry, be happy” is just not enough.
So is there a golden rule of happiness?
I read 23 books on happiness from Buddhism, psychology to hard core neuroscience. I discovered tons of aspiring “golden rules”. To name a few:
- dedicate your life to helping others
- exercise, a lot!
What was extremely interesting is that there was one thing repeated across all books I read — importance of self-awareness.
So is being self-aware the golden rule of happiness? I think it has a pretty good shot.
Considering that there is not a single brain similar to someone else's brain on this planet. We are all unique.
That's why self-awareness is so important for every one of us. Being aware of one's emotions, motivations and personal characteristics is critical for understanding oneself. More importantly, it's the first step towards self-regulation. In human words: It helps us realize that we're in charge and that we can change or improve our mental state and personal characteristics if we want to.
Self-awareness helps us accept ourselves for who we are right now. So it nurtures self-compassion too. It also allows us to set better and more realistic goals about who we want to become in the future.
It's important to mention that self-awareness is a continuous process, rather than a single exercise. It's a bit like fitness. And, yes it means that some people are naturally better at it, some need to work harder to reach it.
Cool fact: Apparently knowing ourselves better also allows us to have a better understanding for others. This can lead to more compassionate society. Less misunderstandings. Less wars. PEACE!? ✌
I would like to wrap up with one of my favorite videos from Gary Vaynerchuk. Love this guy. There is something very real about him.
If you liked this post, I’ll be humbled to get your heart (modest girl, as my mom says :)) or your “follow” on twitter @kpljaskovova. You can also check out liwely.com, personal wellbeing coach in the pocket, we've been building with my team.