“Don’t Worry…Be Happy!”

Dear Reader:

Only, we humans, have the ambiguous “luxury” of worrying. Animals know, instinctively, that there is no security in life and thus live it moment to moment… with little thought to the future. (unless “squirreling away nuts!) 🙂

Whereas humans spend enormous chunks of their time alive…worrying about everything under the sun.

In one article I read on worrying…the psychologist asked his client to answer a memory “test” question on worry and productivity.

“What was your biggest worry exactly one year ago today?”

Instead of a response most clients just shook their heads and some even offered a half-grin at the personal eye-opening truth behind the question. Who remembered or even cared now?

Like Winston Churchill once said in a famous anecdote –

“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of troubles in his life, most of which  never happened.”

If anybody had our human permission to be allowed to worry…it should have been Jesus. Think about it…

He came into an unstable and unpredictable world. He lived in an agricultural society where one summer’s drought could wipe out crops for the winter. He hung out with fishermen, who might fish all night long and catch nothing to sell or bring home to family. And Jesus knew the human heart and the temptations presented by the cares of this life. So he gave his disciples some excellent instruction on worry in Matthew 6.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (25)

He follows up this advice with the next reassurance to mankind…

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (26)

And finally Jesus ‘hits’ his disciples with the crux of the problem of worrying through life and its futility concerning our short life spans on earth …..

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? (27)

(Source: “Three Things Jesus tells Us About Worry” by Mark Altrogge)


Like me…I am sure a lot of you readers are thinking “Sure that all sounds good, Becky, but it’s not realistic…humans can’t help but worry.” Yet does anyone believe God purposefully inserted “worry” into our psyches …after all it is the antithesis of faith.

Let me tell you a true story about witnessing a young man who lived his philosophy in life…however short that was. He was the new music teacher at Oakbrook Elementary when my daughter, Mandy, was still teaching in Summerville.

He was right out of college, just married, and brimming with life….he just wasn’t a music teacher…but he was a breathing musical human “instrument” from God... who was always upbeat and happy.

I adored seeing him whenever I stopped by Mandy’s room to drop something off or tell a story to a class. After only a couple of years or so of teaching he was up for Dorchester Two’s Teacher of the Year. He was just that charismatic…you were drawn to him like a magnet and just wanted some of his enthusiasm and love of life to rub off on you.

I just so happened to be on the Teacher of the Year selection committee that year when he was representing Oakbrook Elementary. He entered the room with a huge smile on his face and shook each one’s hand vigorously.

He answered the questions directly…and we soon understood how he had beaten out so many experienced and talented teachers for this highly selective honor.

Near the end of the questions…one interviewer asked what she had asked the other candidates….How would he (in as few words as possible) sum up his philosophy on education?

No one expected his response….He suddenly jumped up on his chair and said since he was a music teacher it was only appropriate to answer that question with a song instead of a verbal response.

He started singing (pretending he had an ukulele) “Don’t Worry…Be Happy.”  

What I knew from my daughter (but he never mentioned) was that he suffered from a genetic heart problem all his young life…but he had never let it deter him from becoming a music teacher to children.

It was only about a year later that Mandy called me crying…he had gone to sleep one night and never awakened…leaving his recently wedded young wife, along with everyone who ever met him, in mourning over the loss of so much joy he gave the world.

He probably shortened his life by pursuing his teaching career but he could either lay around and watch life from a distance, perhaps extending it a little longer, or jump in headfirst and live life to the fullest for whatever time he had. He made his choice and lived life from moment to moment.

So until tomorrow….Life can be lived in joy and faith…not worrying about tomorrow…but making the most of today.

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”
– Leo F. Buscaglia

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

***As I was writing this post early yesterday morning…my friend, a little rabbit who comes to visit me periodically (especially after sprinkling extra bird feed on the ground around the feeder) showed up. At first I didn’t see him since he blended right into the brown leaves under the feeder.

But then he seemed to look through my window by the computer and “smile” at me….he just sat there and stared before hopping off. I managed to get one photo of him but the screen outside the glass window always causes a barrier to a great photo shot from that angle.

Admittedly…there I was worrying about my little furry friend…wanting him to finish breakfast and scurry back into the woods again where it was safer…whereas the little rabbit was as happy as could be exploring new areas and new adventures. I am envious of the little rabbit…lesson learned.

I was out early in my garden yesterday morning…the automatic sprinkler had come on leaving the bushes and flowers with beautiful droplets on them…here are some pretty moments frozen in beauty.

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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1 Response to “Don’t Worry…Be Happy!”

  1. Rachel Edwards says:



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