What makes you happy? I don't mean the transient feeling of bliss as you bite into a Magnum Ice lolly (other brands are available) on a blistering hot day, which is a marvellous experience, but is a very different thing to a deeper feeling of happiness. What this list is about are ten practical steps to being happy. Of course there are things that can make this hard, if not impossible, such as illness, bereavement, bullying, financial uncertainty. But even when coping with all of these it is always possible to change your mindset and be more positive. This will help you to cope and lay the foundations to happiness. As I am a musician, and music is the fundamental source of my happiness, I will illustrate this with some truly inspirational music.
1. All things must pass.
The first step to happiness is to remember that all things must pass. The good times will, the bad times will. So embrace the good music and hang in there. A song I listen to in times of crisis is All things must pass by George Harrison. I am not a Beatles fan, but I have a very soft spot for George Harrison and this song is, to me, his finest.
2. You can get it if you really want.
The second step to happiness is to realise that you can achieve your dreams, but it is hard. You have to work at it and keep going. If I need some inspiration, I always listen to "You can get it if you really want" by Jimmy Cliff
Appreciate those that love you. Show them love. That will get you through. If I need reminding of this, I listen to Tender by Blur. This song is a lush arrangement that is perhaps the most beautiful pop song ever written. I am amazed it is not covered by other artists more.
4. You can't put your arm around a memory.
To be happy you have to move on. You have to be able to leave the pain of the past behind. Johnny Thunders wrote this song, which is perhaps the saddest and most tragic song, but the message will help you, if you are struggling. As Johnny says "You can't put your arm around a memory, don't try"
5. Get Up Stand Up.
When you are downtrodden, it is almost impossible for happiness to grow. Bob Marley's rallying call to "Get up, Stand Up, Stand up for your rights" and imploring us "Don't give up the fight" is something that always inspires. It won't make you happy, but it will lay the foundations for it
6. Aint no Mountain High Enough
Happiness is about realising that you can get there. You just have to believe. When Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell sung this, you believe. I love this song
When will I reach heaven? When will I see more? This is a question I think we all ask ourselves sometimes, even if we don't believe. Heaven is not necessarily an afterlife and seeing more is understanding, which is something I hope we all strive for. Spirit's When is a classic song to mediate and reflect to. Meditation and reflection, taking time out. This is a key part of finding happiness.
8. Wild Mountain Honey
Appreciate the amazing planet we live on. This masterpiece by The Steve Miller band reminds us that we should appreciate the good things in the world around us. Open your eyes to the gifts of nature and don't just see things as money making opportunities. "You run for the money, you don't even know about wild mountain honey".
9. Amazing Grace
Is there a more uplifting song that Amazing Grace. Is there a more uplifting version than Aretha singing it? Written by an Anglican Clergyman, detailing how his faith got him through his experiences as a conscripted sailor in the Royal Navy. But it is a song of humanity and overcoming adversity. It is about the human condition and the human spirit. I am not quite sure what John Newton, who wrote it would make of Aretha's version, but the two of them managed to make the most amazing piece of music. Watch the film of the recording of this.
As mentioned in 1, you must embrace the good times. Kool and The Gang sum this up in Celebration "Celebrate good times, come on". Live for the moment when things are good.