Fashioning Happiness

September 15, 2014

"Go inward, so that you can go onward, and then upward." Here: two things that can help keep us happy.

PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE NEWS

"It might seem crazy what I'm about to say"

       -first line from the song Happy by Pharrell Williams

Freud has been famously quoted as saying that psychoanalysis could not treat ordinary human unhappiness. Nor do antidepressants turn depression into happiness.

What can?

In this past weekend's edition of the Wall Street Journal, the periodic magazine on Men's Style had a cover story on Pharrell Williams. If you still haven't heard of him, he is a pop-world icon.

Willliams seems to suggest that two things can help to keep us happy as a "room without a roof."

One is music. Williams' song, Happy -- the most popular song in our family, topped the charts in 25 countries in 2014. It is a catchy and persistent ode to maintaining one's happiness despite "bad news talking this and that." It now has a website, www.24hoursofhappy.com, the world's first 24-hour music video, depicting people dancing with abandon to the song. In May, 6 Iranian "Happy" dancers on video were first jailed, then released by the President, who tweeted: "Happiness is our people's right. We shouldn't be too hard on behavior caused by joy."

The other thing that can help keep us happy is fashion. Williams seemed as surprised as anyone that his giant dimpled hat became so popular. Certainly, the cultures of most workplaces put restrictions on dress choice, but otherwise one has more freedom to dress in a way that makes one happy.

Perhaps Mr. Williams is like a modern day societal life coach. In Freudian style, he has said:

"Go inward, so that you can go onward, and then upward."

If you want to get other doses of his happiness, he will be a coach this fall on the popular TV show, The Voice.