Zia Hassan

If Youre Happy And You Know It

… clap your hands.

Except, how do you know when you’re happy? And can you be happy without knowing it?

I suppose I was happy without knowing it for years. When I used to work a desk job (sitting at a cubicle all day), I felt like my life had no meaning or purpose. And it’s likely that the job I had was not in line with who I wanted to be at the time. I would’ve described myself as unhappy. I would tell people I had no passion for my job.

When I left to become a teacher, I had loads of passion for my job… but it was so mentally and physically draining that I wouldn’t have described myself as happy during that time. Maybe satisfied, but not happy.

And now that I have a job that is flexible and just the right amount of work/life balance, I tell people I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. That could also have to do with having a child, because that is an act that increases happiness by leaps and bounds.

But was it really the job that made me happy? Or was it just the story I was telling myself?

Because as the song goes…

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands…

As a child, I never refused to clap my hands when I’ve heard this song. I never took a mental inventory to assess my level of happiness. In fact, even if I was in a stormy mood, I’d still clap my hands because the song doesn’t make much sense otherwise. It’s a built-in participatory move. It’s almost impulsive, subconscious.

And that’s the trick.

By clapping your hands without thinking about it, you’ve agreed to being happy. We clap our hands because we are happy and know it, but we are happy because we clap our hands. It’s the perfect feedback loop.

It’s like how research shows that smiling automatically makes us happier. It’s not about the jobs we have or the events in our life, necessarily. Happiness is a mode. Clapping is one trigger, but there are many others.

Happiness can be turned on.