Mindful Monday: If You Are Happy And You Know It….

If you’re happy and you know it
Clap your hands. 

I’m sure you remember this famous song from your childhood, or perhaps you have sung it to your child recently. It is truly a noteworthy song – and not just because it has a catchy tune. This song is the epitome of mindfulness and a marvelous guide to appropriately expressing one’s emotions in real time. Think about it…mindfulness is, by definition,  “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique” (Oxford). Bingo! If you are happy and you know it, then you are paying attention to your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations in the moment. You are focusing your awareness on your experience in the moment. Many folks in early sobriety are challenged with ’emotional dysregulation’ or ‘moodiness’ now that the analgesic has been taken away and they are finally feeling and experiencing  emotions in real-time. Learning to notice these feelings, name them, and express them in appropriate, effective ways is critical for ongoing sobriety. So, if you are happy and you know it, you are right on track so go ahead and Clap Your Hands!



If you’re angry and you know it
Stomp your feet. 

If you’re angry and you know it, by all means Stomp Your Feet! Learning to identify anger and all its various degrees – frustration, annoyance, irritability, fury, rage – is one of the most difficult personal growth undertakings. Most people shy away from anger and when it builds up, may explode or direct their anger at innocent bystanders.  Sobriety needs to include learning to identify the bodily sensations of anger vs. frustration vs. being mad vs. furious, name the emotion and try out new ways to express these feelings in a safe and effective manner. So, if you are angry and you know it, go ahead and Stomp Your Feet!


If you’re sad and you know it
Cry out loud. 

It is ok to cry. Stop with the ‘pull up your bootstraps’ or ‘big girl panties’ and let the tears flow. Notice feelings of sadness, disappointment, loneliness, hurt, betrayal. Learn to identify each of these feelings and take the risk to express these feelings out loud!


If you’re scared and you know it
Give a shiver. 

Being scared is a NORMAL, TYPICAL emotion for men and women. We tend to cover up our fear with words like “anxiety” or “nervous” and sometimes with another emotion – especially anger. Notice your fear. Name it. Breathe. Find new ways to feel safe instead of drinking for ‘liquid courage’ or numbing the fear. Give a shiver…or, in another version of this song, say “oh no!”


If you’re silly and you know it.
Laugh out loud. 

YES! Letting loose, having fun and being silly is ESSENTIAL for a lifetime of solid sobriety. Learning to take the risk to be authentically you – goofy, nerdy, silly – without a substance to bolster your courage is life-changing. Freedom is what is possible. So, if you are silly and you KNOW it, most definitely laugh out loud!


If you’re friendly and you know it
Wave hello.

Take a risk, say ‘hi’ or smile at a stranger. Show up. Be bold. Offer a compliment. Wave hello. All of these actions are guaranteed to give you energy and make you feel more alive and full of vitality. Addiction is fairly predictable and leads to living a fairly small life. Recovery is unpredictable (in a good way!) and leads to living a big life. Wave hello to yourself!


If you’re sleepy and you know it
Take a nap.

This is one of my favorite reminders. If you are sleepy, take a nap! In the 12-Step world, there is a phrase, H.A.L.T., meaning if you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired, STOP and take care of yourself or you are at a high risk for relapse. Being tired is one of the key triggers for people to want to use substances. We live in a society that often treats fatigue with a substance – pretty much everywhere you can pick up a Triple Latte, Rock Star, Yerba Matte, Red Bull, Mountain Dew, Snickers Bar. Again, learning to notice when your body is tired and needs re-charging is essential for good health and a healthy recovery. So, if you are tired and you know it, go ahead and Take A Nap!


If you’re excited and you know it
Shout hurray

Celebrate the sober way! Shout hurray! Share your excitement, successes, and joys. If you are excited, notice where in your body you feel the emotion – is your heart racing, are you smiling, do you feel warm, are your thoughts racing? Name your experience, share it, express it and revel in it! You deserve to feel good.


If you’re happy and you know it
Clap your hands. 

If you’re happy and you know it
and you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it
Clap your hands.

*edited version of this song – original credited to Joe Raposo*