Don’t Worry, Be Happy


I’m a worrywart.  I’ll admit it.  To quote the learned scholar, Juvenile, I “get it from my mama.”

My mom is the Haitian Chicken Little.  She acted like the sky was falling most of the time.  She was quite melodramatic (no wonder where I get it from).  Even the smallest things led to major productions.  If she couldn’t find her favorite (insert object), she swore someone had come into the house and robbed us.  Mind you, the TV and more expensive items were still in tact, but yes, someone broke in to take a cooking utensil.

Growing up, she would often transfer her constant sense of dread to us.  Being the middle child, I felt the brunt of it.  I was also a girl, so she would bypass my older brother to tell me all about the family’s financial woes and other issues.  I wasn’t allowed to do certain things, ok almost anything, because it could lead to my untimely demise.  Although her fear came in handy to keep me from falling into the wrong crowds, it was also smothering.  I wanted to be as blissfully ignorant as my brother and free to do the kinds of things he was.

It’s hard to let that go as you age.  I find myself thinking of the worst case scenario more often than the best.  Sure, watching as much TV and reading as many tragic books as I have probably hasn’t helped.  One of my closest male friends used to call me “Pessimina.”  I was definitely not the most optimistic person he had ever met.  But with friends like him and the amazing women in my life, I have gotten a little better at seeing the cup half full.

Music has played a very important role in my life.  So Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry, Be Happy is one of the songs I have tried to live by.  It just reminds me that trouble doesn’t always last and that fretting about every bad thing in your life only robs you of your joy (and the happiness of the people around you).  I also love the video, featuring the late Robin Williams, whom I adored.

Hakuna Matata is another song that makes me smile every time I hear it.  I also sing along like I’m Simba.  It’s a cute and upbeat song that literally mean “no worries” in Swahili.  Sure, it’s easier to be worry-free when you’re an animated Disney character that gets to live happily every after.  But Simba had to face quite a few challenges to get to his happy ending.  The Lion King was also the first animated movie I saw as an adult and it made a profound impression on me (as well as the Broadway show, which I’ve seen more than once).

One of my favorite scriptures is Matthew 6:25-34:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I am learning to live in the present more and to see every day as exactly that, a gift.  Life has definitely given me some lemons.  But I am making those into lemonade…spiked with coconut rum (forgive me Father).

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