Occasionally a new great song comes around that captivates me. Pharrell William’s 2013 song “Happy” is one of those. It is infectious and immediately makes you feel happy; as a result it has taken the world by storm. The song currently has over 595 million views on YouTube and a dedicated website 24hoursofhappiness.com, co-branded with the United Nations Foundation. Many countries and cities have already made their own music video versions to Pharrel William’s song. This wonderful song is truly spreading happiness around the world and is an example of the power of music to uplift and unify different cultures.
Three Kinds of Happiness
In his book Learned Optimism, Martin Seligman, a leading authority in the fields of Positive Psychology and resilience who studies emotionally successful lives, identifies three distinct kinds of happiness. He speaks about pleasure, the kind of enjoyment found in choosing good food and any kind of entertainment. The second kind is engagement — when we are so caught up in an activity such as sports or playing music that we lose ourselves in it. The third kind of happiness is exemplified by service or higher values, that which gives life meaning.
Which kind of happiness should you be focusing on? According to Seligman’s research, the third kind of happiness provides the most enduring satisfaction — service to others generates the deepest fulfillment.
The three types of happiness Seligman describes are all dependent on outer circumstances, even the most fulfilling one of service to others. However, if we continually depend on the outer changing circumstances of life for our happiness, then our joy will go up and down like a yo-yo.
A Fourth State of Happiness
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation technique, said many times that the purpose of life is the expansion of happiness. He also said that the essential reality of life is a state of pure happiness and often quoted an expression from the Vedic Literature:
Ananda dhyeva khalvimani bhutani jayante
Anandena jatani jivanti
Anandam prayantyabhisamvishanti —
Taittiriya Upanishad (3.6.1)
Out of bliss all beings are born,
In bliss they are sustained,
To bliss they go and merge again.
There is a field of happiness within everyone in the experience of transcendental consciousness — the most silent level of our mind. By regularly contacting this field, we spontaneously develop and stabilize a state of happiness that is independent of the outer ups and downs of life. Transcendental Meditation is a direct means to experience this transcendental consciousness, and research on Transcendental Meditation shows a growth in positivity in all aspects of life.
This happiness is a state of being that is easily and effortlessly achieved because it is your own essential nature. Achieving this state of happiness is the basis for full enjoyment of all the other three types of happiness. It is like watering the root of a tree — then the sap will nourish all aspects of the leaves and the branches. Maharishi explains that enlightenment dawns when this state of transcendental consciousness — inner happiness — is stabilized and experienced 24 hours a day.
Bhutan is the first country in the world to have a Gross National Happiness measure to assess the well-being of its citizens, alongside other usual measures such as Gross Domestic Product for economic growth. Hopefully more countries will soon follow suit. If we can measure the growth of happiness in an individual then soon, by extension, we should be able to measure the growth of positivity in each country, as well as in the world as a whole.
It is heartwarming to know that happiness is growing in the inner direction through many people already practicing and many more continuously learning to meditate, and that happiness is also spreading in the outward direction around the world through many people dedicated to serving humanity and the many positive cultural and musical forces, particularly this upbeat joyous song “Happy.”
Be happy by simply BEING and dance and sing the joy of life!
Here are a few examples of the song from around the world: