Happy

The first time I heard the song Happy, I hated it. My dad had heard it and wanted to share it with me, but it’s not really the kind of song you can just focus on. It sounded like the most boring, repetitive thing I’d ever heard.

Then a few days later it came on while I was driving somewhere. Suddenly, it was really catchy. I sang along with enthusiasm and now I’m, well, happy every time it comes on the radio. I probably look like a moron, cruising down the interstate bobbing along with the song.

Here’s the song, so you can listen to it while you read the rest of this post. But don’t listen to it by itself, it’ll be too boring.

But if I only like a song while I’m distracted, I’m still not sure it has much going for it. I mean, look at these lyrics…

Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

It sort of starts to sound sort of indoctrinating. I’m not always happy. Sometimes it comes on the radio and sure, I’ll sing along, it’s catchy. If everyone just sings along because they like the song – I mean, it’s catchy – is it really happy?

Obviously a lot of people like the song, because they recorded 24 hours worth of random people dancing to make 24 Hours of Happy. The official Vevo video has almost 116 million YouTube views at the moment. And it is nice to celebrate happiness, I suppose, but maybe it’s a little one-dimensional. Happiness doesn’t come easily to me, and I know I’m not the only one – half my friends in college were on depression medication. I would say overall my life is just lightly peppered with little happy moments, like how this morning I woke up moments before the sun rose over the tips of the roofs on my street and I watched as my white curtains burned golden, with the silhouette shadows of the trees along my street lightly wobbling in the breeze.

Going back to the lyrics, I’m not sure I even know what happiness is to me. I mean, obviously I haven’t figured it out yet, if the surprise of the first sunlight streaming through my window makes me feel happy for a brief moment in the morning. Or seeing a fat dog being walked along the river outside my window at work. Or the steam rising off my tea in my chilly apartment.

It seems like a lot of people I know have figured out that their happiness is always doing something. Next to them, I feel pretty lame and boring when I get home from work and I’m too exhausted to move or even cook dinner, while they’re running marathons and going to trivia night at a bar and going snowboarding or other very extroverted, active things that sort of scare me. But do they know what happiness is to them, either? Or is it just thrill-seeking in the pursuit of happiness?

I’m bad at small talk, and one of my standbys is “So, you doing anything exciting this weekend?” and I hate that question every time it falls out of my mouth. So what if you’re doing something exciting this weekend? The standard reply is “Yes, I’m __. How about you?” and that’s where I get stuck, because no, I normally don’t have any plans. And that’s fine. I don’t do a lot of things that would sound very exciting to you. But I enjoy my weekends all the same, most of the time.

Other people I know seem to spend every free moment watching TV or playing video games. Those are my more introverted friends, finding happiness in activities they sincerely enjoy doing alone, or with one or two other people. I don’t really do those things, either. I took one of those tests recently, and it said I’m an ambivert. Which I guess explains why I awkwardly spout out really loud things trying to be funny in groups, and then I sit there frozen when the mailman comes into our office and I’m closest to the door but I really, really don’t want to go talk to someone I don’t know.

I’m not sure happiness is the truth, either. Not to be a downer or anything, but I know my boyfriend would hate this song, and in all honesty it is a pretty worthless song. I mean, if Pharrell didn’t write it, eventually someone would have. We have a culture that glorifies all happiness, all the time. If you’re not happy, something is wrong with you. Here, take these pills, they’ll fix you, because you’re broken, because you’re not happy. And maybe that works for some people. But it didn’t for me, and I’ve come to think that maybe I’m not that weird. Maybe the people who are always happy are a little weird. Does happiness even mean anything at that point? Or does it just make everything a little duller, make you need to seek out something a little more happy, a little more thrilling, with each passing day?

I think for now I’ll stick with my sunny curtains and fat dogs and tea steam. Because I know for a brief few seconds, these things always seem to make me happy.