I can’t believe it’s taken me 755 posts to arrive at this old classic nursery rhyme. Totally a travesty and not at all a sign that I’m really, really running out of questions. Ahem. So, there are many versions of this song. If you’re sad and you know it, cry a tear. Not a great message to give kids, but it’s certainly catchier than, ‘If you’re sad and you know it, go and find an adult to talk to about your problems.’ If you’re scared and you know it, hide your eyes. Bad advice, that. I’d recommend running away. There are also some truly odd versions. If you’re happy and you know it, scratch your side. Oh yeah, that old chestnut. I’m so happy I’m itchy. My favourite version, however, was sung by a nun to a group of toddlers in an episode of The Simpsons. ‘If you’re happy and you know it, that’s a sin…’
This popular nursery rhyme was created in the early 1900s and it quickly took hold of the world. Soon, it was being published in books, from books of drama for differently abled children, to a nursing home manual. Which is either wonderful or… tragic. I’m not sure which. Also, I didn’t know old folks came with a manual. Interestingly, the American man who created this song was named Doctor Alfred Smith. The name ‘Alfred’ means, and this is true, ‘elf counsel,’ meaning the man who came up with ‘Happy and You Know It’ was literally named ‘Doctor Elf Counsel.’ Tee, he, he…
The most common version of this song is, ‘If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. If you’re happy and you know it, and you really want to show it; if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.’ Apparently, there are more verses, but since I didn’t really pay much attention in school, I’m at a loss to tell you what they are. It’s worth noting that many think Pharrell Williams’ song ‘Happy’ is simply an adult version of this nursery rhyme. ‘Because I’m happy, clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.’ It works surprisingly well to the tune of ‘Happy and You Know It,’ doesn’t it?
So, how can we tell if we’re happy or if we are sad? Ah, science. It can tell me, without doubt, if I am happy or sad. Or can it? Hmm…
Science tells us that to be truly happy, we want others to be happy, too. To share our happiness with others. So, how do I fair? Not well. I don’t even know how one could ‘share’ happiness. So, for me, this is 1-0 to sadness. Not a great start. It’s said that the happy do not sweat the small stuff. They don’t focus on the small and everyday things. Oh, God. Failed again. You have no idea how much the little things stress me out, like cleaning my glasses. Constantly. It’s the end of the world for me, that. The happy also appreciate the little things, like one’s favourite song on the radio or the birds chirping. I, however, hate the sound of birds, but I do enjoy hearing my favourite song on the radio. So I’ll call this one a draw. 3-1 to sadness.
The happy are proud and glad of the successes of others. Of course. The happy live in the moment. Science tells us that focusing on the now increases our feelings of joy. I’d say I do live in the moment. And that brings us level. 3-3. Although not for long. Countless scientific studies have found that nobody can be truly happy unless one has been in many healthy and fulfilling relationships. That we need physical and emotional intimacy as much as we need oxygen. Oh, be quiet, hippies. No we don’t. I’ve never had a girlfriend. Don’t see the point, really. Regardless, sadness takes the lead. 4-3.
The truly happy never get stressed, so we’re told. And if they do, they have an outlet, a way to calm down. This doesn’t sound like me at all, unfortunately. This isn’t going well. Oh, and it gets worse. The truly happy don’t pursue material goods. It’s said they don’t make you happy. Oh, I have to disagree. I love my iPad. It’s also said that the happy always look on the bright side of life. I try to. 6-4 to sadness. Is the comeback on?
Nope. A 2011 study found that most happy people have a sister, and that having a sister makes one able to communicate more effectively and maintain positive emotions. Oh, for God’s sake – it’s hardly my fault I don’t have a sister. And it gets worse. The happy make friends easily. A study by the British Medical Journal found that people connected naturally with those that made them happy. Suggesting, therefore, that if you have no friends, then… you don’t make people happy. Oh. 8-4.
Similar studies have found that if we set ourselves goals, we tend to be more satisfied with life. Oh, but I never bother with this sort of thing. I’m too busy living in the moment. Which is a shame, really, because it’s also said that the truly happy make time to do the things they love. I love photography but I never have time to do it. It’s also said that the happy are healthy. Oh, boy. I’m so failing this test. 10-4 to sadness.
But what about the things that make us sad? Studies have shown that the sad feel like they’re not as good as other people. Well, I know I’m not. I’m not good at anything, really. Constantly worried I’m not good enough, smart enough, et al enough? Hmm. Most of the time, yeah. Disappointed with life? Sure. I thought there’d be more than this. And not being able to get rid of this negativity? Yup. Sadness wins, readers. Sadness wins. 14 points to happiness’s 4. Oh. That’s depressing…
But I’d counter those results with this. What is happiness? Surely, ‘happiness’ is measured by a different metric for different people. I really do, genuinely, feel happy, even though I don’t meet the ‘scientific requirements.’ The experts tell us, for example, that if you’re not healthy, you cannot be happy. Cannot. But I argue that stuffing my face with as many bacon sandwiches as humanly possible, something I endeavour to do every day of the week, makes me much happier than I ever would be going for a 10-mile jog every morning.
Science may say that I am not happy, but as for my own review? I’d say I was. Most certainly.
Am I happy and I know it? Yes. But are you, readers?
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