Be Happy for this Moment is your Life

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(A KjzzFuzion Perspective Article on Dance and Happiness)

Can you define happiness?  Is it a summation of simple continuous positive emotional experiences?  Is it having a sense of purpose?  Is it living your passion?  Is it about loving and being loved?  Is it about having fun?  Is it temporary or permanent?  The many answers for defining happiness often contradict and further confuse.

One answer that rises above all the others is that happiness is a choice.  Some of the happiest people we’ve come across are facing challenging obstacles but refer to themselves as happy and content with life.   We’ve learned many lessons.  Namely, happiness is a choice.  If we delay happiness until we reach certain idealized milestones, we will never truly be happy. Success is relative.  We need to enjoy the present moment and our overall journey, regardless of the challenges of life, in order to ever feel successful and accomplished.

These testimonies are true statements but when we are faced with life’s obstacles, how do we make the choice to be happy?  Choosing to be happy can be a challenge of its own.  When life events naturally put a smile on our faces, it is easy to “choose” happiness.  It’s like happiness is just there organically, without having to work for it.  However, when we face challenges and the natural feelings we experience are pain and sadness, happiness becomes hard work.

In the face of this hard work, dance can make choosing happiness an easier choice to make.  According to a 2017 study by Melissa K Weinberg and Dawn Joseph, engaging with music through dancing or attending concerts correlates with higher levels of subjective well being, a term that the field of scientific psychology uses to refer to what we know as “happiness.” In fact, compared with non-dancers, people who dance regularly declared significantly higher rates of satisfaction with their health, achievements, relationships and community.  While dance does not prevent life challenges, people engaged with music through dance had an overall positive outlook on life and were more optimistic. (Melissa K. Weinberg and Dawn Joseph. “If You’re Happy and You Know It: Music Engagement and Subjective Wellbeing.” Psychology of Music, vol. 45, issue 2, 2017: p. 262.)

During a CNN interview, Melissa K. Weinberg, explained that listening to music or watching dance performances on television does not have the same positive effects but “it’s that active engagement that seems critical”.  She further explained that the purposeful interaction with music that we find in dancing routines or musical events is about using an outlet to express emotions.   She found that an outlet to express emotions significantly benefits well being, however that outlet becomes even more powerful if shared with others.  Paraphrasing Weinberg, “we know social relationships are absolutely critical to subjective well being,” and music (or dancing) is a great way to foster those social connections. (AJ Willingham, “Are Music and Happiness Linked?CNN, 31 March 2017.)

Life is full of challenges but dance helps choosing to be happy easier by helping with your overall sense of well being and outlook.  Dancing is an outlet for releasing negative emotions and for building meaningful social connections with people.  So choose to be happy, and enjoy life as it is offered.

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