Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Songs in the Affirmative!

You Rock! by Jenifer Berman
There a viral video on YouTube that's already quite famous. It's called Jessica's "Daily Affirmation" and it currently has about 14 million views. If you haven't seen it before, you can check it out here.
It's basically a video of an excited little girl looking into the bathroom mirror and declaring that she loves her dad and her mom and her house and etcetera etcetera in an excited display of motivational positivity before she goes off to begin her day. It's cute and it's funny and it's also a few years old so the little girl in the video is probably more grown up now and with a few extra years added to her experience, she might be a little more cynical about life.
   It goes quickly. I'm talking about the youthful version of positivity and outlook on life. Even if life is treating us relatively well, we lose the innocent sense that this world was meant to have us in it, usually by our late teen years. And by mid-life, plenty of us feel like we've had the positivity beaten out of us like dust getting beaten out of a rug. In fact, there's a few responses to the Daily Affirmation video suggesting, jokingly, that a grown-up Jessica might think entirely differently.
   In looking back at some of the topics covered by our blog here at Very Us Mumblings, we have found that we, too, have succumbed to the cynicism and negativity that accompanies the age and era that we live in. Having posted blog entries on every sinister subject from Devolution to Nuclear-Power to Suicide, you'd think we were the antithesis of the little girl Jessica and her affirmation. But we don't want to take the other side. We want to be the good guys!
   Unfortunately that child-like positivity doesn't come back to us later in life. And so grown-ups like us have to do a little soul-searching to find real affirmation. But simple positivity doesn't lose it's meaning because of lack of naivety. We don't have to pretend we're under ten years old to appreciate a positive message once in a while, and we'd like to think that we haven't all had our outlook destroyed by life, yet.  So here's some positive messages from some musicians who are not children...

Don't Worry:
Sometimes, worrying is not a choice that an individual can make. People face hardships that cannot be avoided and worrying is both natural and understandable.
But in many cases, worrying is more of an obstacle than a natural reaction. And for many people, one worry just leads to another because there is always something to worry about in this world full of bad news.
Worrying doesn't affect a solution and worrying unnecessarily can prevent people from getting along in life and doing what they need to do. Furthermore, If a person is constantly in a state of worry about the things in their personal life or things beyond their control in the world, they may give themselves no chance or opportunity to truly enjoy life and see the positive things that are there to be experienced. Worse still, if you are too caught up in worry, you may leave yourself unable to change the exact thing that you are worried about.
 At this point, several readers are going to think that I would choose Bobby McFerrin's Don't Worry Be Happy as a song-choice, but it was probably Bob Marley & The Wailers who said it best on the Exodus Album when they wrote and performed a song about a message received from Three Little Birds.

Engage and Appreciate the World:
We've all heard the expression 'Stop and smell the roses'. But few of us take that as real advice and actually do it. Fewer still take a moment to ponder the idea that the rose you smell is a living thing: another being unto itself.
And then try to appreciate the complexity and diversity of all the things in the world and nature and the forces that are out there guiding this planet and universe in ways not yet fully understood by science or mankind in general. You don't have to believe in God to realize that this existence is beyond your fingertips, out of your eyesight, and yet awesome and magnificent. It is no less of a miracle for being explained by science, because it isn't some magic-trick or phony baloney. And the more you know about it, the more you realize that you'll never know. And yet, despite the awesome power of this crazy universe, such beautiful and wonderful things exist all around us. This is really the world you live in and it's incredible!

Look to the Future:
It's long been said that to avoid negativity, a person should turn focus towards the future, rather than dwell on the past. Several songs come to mind when thinking about the idea of looking to the future in order to maintain some positivity, but two are particularly profound. The first is one of the most famous hit songs by Fleetwood Mac: Don't Stop thinking about Tomorrow. If you're at all familiar with the story behind the 'Rumours' album, you'll know that while the band was going through a terrible time in their private lives, the group managed to produce a song that took a positive turn by focusing on the future.
   However, In a different decade, with less inner-band turmoil, and without the shuffle-beat, a group named Talk Talk wrote an amazing song called Life's what you make it. The song had a different take on what is essentially the same message.
   The current world might seem terrible and bleak, and our past might make us despondent and sad, but the unfortunate truth is that it is entirely unchangeable. There is nothing to do there. However, it's the future is where we have a chance to make a real difference. Whatever your past or current situation, your best and most positive first move is to turn your focus towards the future, even if it's only to plan or act for the day ahead of you.
Talk Talk's song is one that comes around circularly to a positive message, but it is still one that rings powerfully to those who hear it. Life is what you make it. Celebrate it!

Give something to your Community / Society / the World:
Affirmations are usually about looking in a mirror and renewing faith in yourself, but If you ever want to renew your faith in humanity, you should give something to your neighbours and your community. People care! And they give of themselves and their time because they want to, not because they have to. The truth is people do many good things everyday. And I'm not talking about some about some rich arsehole giving money to a cultural charity in order to get a tax deduction. I'm talking about the really good people who help because they can, not because they expect something in return. Just last year in July of 2013, a man in Edmonton bought 500 coffees for any store customers who happened to walk in, making coffee free at the store for about 24 hours! It's believed the man was celebrating some good news, but he never explained his reasons or gave his name, choosing to remain anonymous.
   More recently, this past New Year, Dec 31 2013, In Long Island U.S.A. a regular customer at a coffee-shop drive-thru bought a gift-card for other customers to use for their purchases. Despite a busy morning, the 'community card' lasted about an hour, because several customers actually re-filled the card instead of using it for their purchases.
   There are numerous and abundant examples of people doing good deeds that don't appear on the news except in the most odd or extreme cases. It's easy to get cynical and angry about life, but give a little bit and you'll see some real positivity in this world.