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August is National Back to School Month. Everyone is busy getting ready for the new school year. Even we grandparents are trying to get in the last hoorah of summertime. This year of 2020 has given us lots of new changes and still has lots of anxieties. Will the school year start? Will it finish? What will be different or new? And it is okay to have these new thoughts, concerns, anticipations, and anxieties.

 

We all have been through so many changes lately. Moms (that never thought they would) have become stay at home teachers and some, if not many, may decide to stay that way…if only for a while.

 

Along with August being National Back to School Month, it also has my personal favorite of National Smile Week right before school starts. August also holds claim to National Simplify Your Life Week, Friendship Week, and is also Admit You’re Happy Month. That brings to my mind a special quote and chorus of a song titled the same, “Don’t worry. Be happy.” I remember this phrase from the 1970’s.

It is a good quote to focus on for this school year and it has been around for a long time. This phrase originated and was used often by Indian Mystic Meher Baba (1894-1969). He was a spiritual guide who said this phrase many times to his followers for their encouragement. It literally means what it says. It was so popular that it became a daily inspiration in the 1960’s, even being made into postcards, plaques, and posters. That is how I first saw it. And I remember where.

I was in seventh grade and there in the counselor's office at school was a plaque that said, “Don’t worry.  Be happy.” This plaque was on the wall behind him so I could not look at him without seeing the plaque. I wonder if he put it there on purpose.

 

I was in there a lot, almost daily, so I read it every time I went in. And just in case you are wondering, I was not in trouble. I was his School Service Helper working for volunteer hours. I really didn’t know what was behind the School Service program, but what I did know and liked was that when I got my class work done with each teacher I got to leave class and go help this counselor. It was such motivation for me, and I liked helping him.   We got to know each other well and some days he would say that catchy phrase to me, “Don’t worry.  Be happy.” As my counselor, he knew the difficult home life I was leaving school to go to. And I knew he was trying to cheer me up. It only worked because I knew I would see him the next day at school. It is amazing who and how people can impact our lives. I still love that phrase and think of him every time I think of it.

 

An American jazz vocalist, Bobby McFerrin, saw the phrase on a poster, wrote it into an inspiring song, played every instrument in the song as well as singing and doing the whistling that is included in it. The song exploded becoming #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This was in 1988. It was also that year that it became Jamaica’s unofficial anthem after the 1988 Hurricane Gilbert, which did horrible destruction and is still ranked of record proportions.

 

This phrase and song went on to be used as a book title, was a featured song for movies including, Casper: A Spirited Beginning; WALL-E; Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation; and was used in many other ways. It is meant to be encouraging and uplifting and is quite like

 

“Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”

Proverbs 12:25

 

So, start your kids and yourself off this school year with, “Don’t worry. Be happy,” and if you know the catchy tune, sing it!

 

And always remember…

 

“Cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you,”

 

1 Peter 5:7.

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Don't Worry.  Be Happy.
by Carole Gilbert

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