Five Ways to Happiness

by Neil Millington

I don’t particularly like to sing in class. Mainly because I’m not that good at it! Each semester I make an exception though for one particular song. It’s a song I learned from Tim Murphey about five or six years ago. I love this song because it is not that difficult to sing, my students all get into it, and it has a great message. I fist sang this song about five years ago and a few weeks ago a student posted the lyrics on Facebook. She had remembered all the lyrics from the song and she was using it to encourage her friends. It’s that good I thought I would share the song and explain how I use it in class.

Five Ways to Happiness

The song is called ‘Five Ways to Happiness!’ As I mentioned above, it was written by Tim Murphey, and the song is sung to the tune of ’12 Days of Christmas’.

Here are the lyrics:

When you want to be happy, there’s/there’re (#) thing(s) you can do…
(#: one, two, three, four, and five)

  1. Smile from ear to ear

  2. Breathe in deep

  3. Look up at the sky

  4. Sing a song

  5. Show your love

Presenting the Song

I begin by showing an image of someone smiling and then use gestures (a little like charades) to elicit a smile from ear to ear. I then show an image of someone meditating and gesture a deep breath. Next, I show a picture of a beautiful blue sky and gesture looking up. I then show another picture of someone singing and again gesture myself before finally showing an image of a bride and groom kissing while I gesture blowing a kiss.

Preparing the Students

Next, it is preparation time. I sing the song all the way through starting with number one and working up to include all the actions. After that, I sing it again and get the students to sing along from numbers five through to number one. I give them a few minutes to practice with a partner. My students are usually quite nervous about singing in front of people, so I generally let them take their time and we only start when they seem comfortable. When everyone is ready we’ll sing the song together.

Why This Works

What I really like about this is it’s not only a fun activity. The message behind the song is very positive. In his article, Tim explains the positive nature of this song. He explains that by actually doing these five things people will become happier. He states that research shows that smiling and laughing moves facial muscles and sends messages to the brain to releases endorphins which kill pain. People who smile make themselves feel better. He also explains when you breathe deeply you get more oxygen to the brain and can think more clearly. The looking up action represents dreaming and visualizing a goal. Singing does the same as smiling and breathing, and he says showing your love is good emotional intelligence.

Thanks to Tim for sharing this. I hope you give it a try in class and your learners get some good positive vibes!