Having a rough day? If you have a few minutes, Pharrell Williams’ music video “Happy” from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack is an instant happiness booster. Studies have shown that dancing can actually increase one’s ability to find resilience and experience the feeling of being happy.
I should know. For the past week, I’ve been listening to it first thing in the morning, which has inevitably led to a spontaneous dance party around my apartment. (If you’re wondering what that looks like, check out this girl getting her groove on at work to Kanye West’s “Gone.”)
“Happy” is 3 minutes and 53 seconds of inspirational, upbeat music which repeats to create “the world’s first 24-hour music video.” It features various seemingly ordinary people dancing, skipping, clapping, and singing along to the tune.
If you watch all 24 hours, you’ll find some nice surprises. Along with Pharrell, who appears at the top of each hour, there are a number of celebrity drop-ins, including Steve Carrell (5:08 pm), Jamie Foxx (5:28 pm), Miranda Cosgrove (5:40 pm), Kelly Osbourne (1:28 am) and Magic Johnson (5:36 am).
The song is an important reminder that, while the yogic path and contemplative practices like silent meditation can sometimes feel serious or austere, getting grounded and feeling centered can actually be fun.
“Happiness can be contagious when we are really in the moment,” says Kripalu faculty member Maria Sirois, PsyD, who leads programs in the science of happiness and resilience. “There really is no separation between body, mind, and spirit—how we participate in one arena impacts the other. Joyful, spontaneous dance leads to happier emotions and calmer, more positive thoughts.”
Maria says that watching the video while sick in bed, a few weeks back, brought her out of her misery and back into the larger world: “It reminded me that we have a choice at each moment about what to focus on.”
In other words, what we choose to pay attention to creates our reality, and that helps us build resilience (the ability to bounce back).
Studies have found that dance can lower the level of stress hormones and redirect negative thought patterns. Another powerful reminder of how body-awareness and movement can initiate resilience and play a vital role in our health and immunity is Deborah Cohan’s spontaneous dance party in the operating room at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco right before her double mastectomy.
“We can choose at any moment, even just before an operation, to make choices that enliven our mental, emotional state and our immune system,” Maria says.
Ready for your dance break?
What does happiness mean to you?