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Dancing for Joy and Happiness The SeniorScape®

December 24, 2023This morning, I read a New York Times article about the latest unrest in Iran which began with a fish market stall owner 70 years of age. He’s affectionately nicknamed “Booghy”. The derivation of the nickname comes from times when Mr. Bana Motejaded walked amongst stadium fans with a megaphone to get them energized. Though “Booghy” is no stranger to inspiring crowds, and whether-or not it was his intention, he has ignited a wave of music, singing and dancing across the country. Waving his arms and gyrating his hips outside his fish market has become a country-wide rallying cry for freedom and happiness.

Men, and women of all ages, clap and chant in rhythmic chorus set to an upbeat folk song. Wherever people congregate, in stadiums, restaurants, malls, and parties you can hear them singing, “oh, oh, oh”, to the folk song. It inspired a group of men to choreograph and perform a hip hop dance in a park.

In a country ruled by strict authoritarianism and religious zealots who forbid showing joy, happiness, or co-mingling of women and men, this is unprecedented.

Fearing retribution, people have spoken out anonymously claiming that arrests and crackdowns were for no other reason than people expressing joy and happiness. Angry social media posts accused the government of being at war with happiness.

While the culture is not a stranger to singing and dancing, it is prohibited in public, and especially between men and women. As one might expect, the wave has aroused the ire of the government, ultimately finding many people arrested and jailed. “Booghy’s” Instagram account of 128,000 was shut down. Mounting pressure found the government having to reinstate his account which now has almost 1M followers. Many people are referring to him as a national hero.

Would you have thought it possible that one person, 70 years of age, with a simple song and dance, could ignite a country-wide movement across all age groups?

“Booghy” has claimed that his reason for dancing is to make people happy, and happiness changes people’s moods.

This story inspired me to write this post. At this time of year, when many people are stressed, overwhelmed, and stretched with holiday preparations for what is touted as the joy of the season,  we tend to forget the basics that bring us joy and happiness. I began thinking about what has brought me joy and happiness during the past year. New friendships, opportunities, experiences, adventures, accomplishments. Being open contributes to continued growth, to feeling vibrant, to being active, interested and interesting.

Outside of this holiday season,

·    What is your idea of joy and happiness?

·    Do you find joy in simple pleasures?

·    Have you explored, or are you willing to explore, new opportunities, experiences, adventures, friendships?

·    Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone?

·    Would you defy what is expected in order to express what brings you joy or happiness?

Singing, music, dancing, rhythmically moving our bodies, are simple pleasures that bring joy and happiness. Pleasures that can be shared with family, friends and strangers.

It reminds me of my own joy of dancing. Every nursing home I’ve ever worked in I’d find myself dancing to the music that was playing or practicing some dance move or routine (when I was performing or competing) while waiting at the elevator. It never failed but to ignite joy from whoever was in view or happened to pass by. It was infectious. They began to move and sway to their own beat.

Joy and happiness are essential to our wellbeing. The benefit of feeling more joy is that it promotes a positive attitude and a healthier lifestyle.  It boosts the immune system, fights stress and pain, and supports longevity.

However, it is not in the pursing joy and happiness that brings it. The goal is to find out what brings the joy and happiness. What “Booghy” did was spontaneous. It was music, singing and dancing that brought him joy which became an outward expression that was infectious.

Like a smile, seeing people joyful and happy encourages others to join in.  It promotes more positivity and it’s akin to the ripple effect of throwing a stone in a pond.

Think of times you’ve been engrossed in an activity. You may be in what is often referred to as the zone. You aren’t necessarily thinking about whether you feel joyful or happy because you are immersed in the activity, you’re too busy concentrating on what you are doing.  It is in retrospect that you reflect on these experiences with feelings of positivity and describe the experience as being joyful or bringing you happiness.

The psychologists Ken Sheldon and Sonja Lyubomirsky discovered that in order to find happiness you need to change your actions, not your circumstances.  If you’re too focused on happiness in and of itself, the end-result may be that you chase it away.

In the 2012 book Obliquity, Why Our Goals Are Best Achieved Indirectly, John Kay posits that it is only through indirect pursuits that we can find the best things in life. He believes this is also true for happiness. In order to experience the true meaning of joy you need to find or become engrossed in the projects and relationships from which joy and happiness are byproducts.

According to the great philosopher John Stuart Mill, Those only are happy who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness.

Our present times are full of division and strife.

·    What can each of us do to change our mood into one of positivity and the mood of someone else?

·    What can we do to bring joy and happiness to those in our family, in our workplace, in our community?

My wish is that your holiday dream be the dance that brings you a positivity, health, joy, and happiness.

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