Saturday, May 01, 2010

Joy Delights In Joy - Michelle Douglas

Joy is a wonderful thing, don't you think? And I believe Shakespeare got it right – joy does delight in joy.

All in all, I consider myself a pretty happy person – certainly more optimist than pessimist – but I do realise that’s not the case for everyone (and it's not the case for me a hundred percent of the time either). When I was aimlessly surfing the web recently, I stumbled across a class called Joy to the Brain: The Neuroscience of Happiness. This class professes to teach its students the things they can do to make themselves happier. Specifically, “Twelve distinct brain functions that promote and produce happiness.”

How intriguing is that?

This list included, among other things, meditation, gratitude, the joy of giving, the importance of learning, and play – that is, doing something for no other reason than that it's fun. Now I say a big amen to all of that, but another two of the items from the list leapt out at me straight away because the heroine from my current release The Cattleman, The Baby and Me uses them to keep her spirits up – and that’s singing and dancing.

Now, no, Sapphie is a no better singer and/or dancer than I am – and believe me, you wouldn’t book either one of us as the entertainment for your end of year function – but the simple act of singing and dancing to her favourite music keeps Sapphie buoyant.

I don’t know why I didn’t make the connection while I was writing the book, but most nights when I’m cooking dinner I plug in my iPod, chose a play list and sing and dance along. I even have what I call my you-can’t-be-sad-when-you’re-listening-to-these-songs play list. And just in case any of you are feeling in need of a little pick me up I’m going to share my favourite top 5 songs from this play list... and feel free to laugh at my appalling taste. After all, laughter is a sign of joy, isn't it?

1. Dancing Queen (or Mamma Mia or Waterloo or... pretty much anything really) by ABBA – now I’m Australian and Australians have long had a love affair with this quintessentially boppy Swedish pop group. ABBA is Sapphie’s favourite group... and okay yes, they’re mine too.

2. Chewy, Chewy by Ohio Express – any song that has the lyrics “Chewy, Chewy, Chewy, Chewy, Chewy, Chewy, Chewy baby always got a mouthful of such sweet things to say. Chewy (x7 again) baby, chewy’s full of sugar and I love it that way, ” has to make you grin. Ohio Express is also responsible for “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy I’ve got love in my tummy.”

3. 500 Miles by The Proclaimers – they sound like they’re having soooo much fun. It’s contagious!

4. I Could Be So Good For You by Denis Waterman – I am convinced this man is a total rogue (in the best possible way) and that come across very nicely in this song, thank you. I can't help but smile whenever I hear it.

5. Mickey by Toni Basil – try to NOT dance to this!

Actually, there were loads more I could’ve chosen – everything from Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep to Scotland the Brave (yep, bagpipes make me smile too) – but these are my five favourites for today. So what about you – do you have a favourite happy song that I could add to my play list?
Oh, and in the interests of making you all smile, everyone who leaves a suggestion will go into a draw to win a copy of my May release, The Cattleman, The Baby and Me.



Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Michelle, what a fun post! I was thinking about music that made me happy the other day - it's funny, the first notes of some songs just get me smiling, no matter how bad the day has been. One of those songs is I Just Can't Get Enough by Depeche Mode and another is Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Want to Have Fun. I hear the start of either of those and I'm bopping away (to the dismay of anyone who ever sees me!). Congratulations on the new book - it sounds fabbo!

runner10 said...

Let's hear it for the girls by Martina McBride.
Makes me want to get up and move!!
Your new book sounds great.

Virginia C said...

Hi, Michelle! You made me smile : ) I love to sing! My grandmother, mother and I all love opera and musicals. We devoutly watched Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald at every chance, and I have collected their films. My favorite is "Girl of the Golden West". The three of us would sing together: Mom had the high singing voice, I had the lower range, and Gran did the silly singing!

My favorite record of all time is "Sweet Dreams Are Made Of These" by the Eurythmics. Love Annie Lennox! This is not exactly a happy song, but it is associated with happy memories for me. It's a timeless song, and I never tire of hearing it : )

gcwhiskas at aol dot com

Annie West said...

Hi Michelle,

What a great list of actions to promote optimism! And a terrific playlist.

You really struck a chord when you put The Proclaimers and their '500 Miles' in there. It ALWAYS lifts my spirits. 'Let's Call the Whole Thing Off' sung by Ella Fitzgerald and Louie Armstrong always has me singing along plus a huge range of songs from my past including 'Tainted Love' by Soft Cell, which isn't a happy song by any means but still I can't help singing it (and feeling good as a result).

I can't wait to read 'The Cattleman, the Baby and Me'. I'm always hanging out for your latest story!

Mary said...

Great blog post and what a fun question.

Mine would be Dead Man's Paradise by Oingo Boingo. I don't really know why that song makes me smile, maybe it's the beat along with the seriously funny lyrics.

Michelle Douglas said...

Anna, both your songs brought back great memories for me. When I was at university, Depeche Mode were my favourite band. Love, love, love Can't get enough. Am going to load that onto my ipod pronto!

Ooh and super-huge congrats on your double Golden Quill win with Tempt The Devil and Captive of Sin. Richly deserved no doubt! I have both books sending out their siren call from my tbr pile -- I can't wait to dive into them!

Michelle Douglas said...

Runner10, I just went out to YouTube to listen to some Martina McBride -- loved it! Thanks for the suggestion.

Michelle Douglas said...

Virginia, you made me smile too! It sounds as if you, your Mom and your Gran had a ball! Loved the picture your description created. Music and memories really do get entwined, don't they?

Ooh, Eurythmics!!! I saw them live in 1987. Brilliant concert. Annie Lennox -- what a woman!

Michelle Douglas said...

Hi, Annie! Tainted Love is currently on my ipod, and I too have to sing (and dance) along. It's just one of those songs :-)

Ah, Ella and Louie, what a combination. I have the soundtrack to Porgy and Bess somewhere and now you have me dying to dig it out (am making note to self -- as soon as current deadline is met, have an Ella and Louie extravaganza).

And thank you for your kind words -- am hoping you enjoy The Cattleman, The Baby and Me. I love those rugged outback cattleman. Still, it must be said, I do love an Annie West Sheikh.

Michelle Douglas said...

Hi, Mary. Just the name Oingo Boingo makes me grin. That's an inspired suggestion and I'm adding it to my list as we speak. A good beat and funny lyrics -- what's not to love about that?

Kirsten said...

I always love to listen to: Walking on sunshine by Katrina & The Waves.

Michelle Douglas said...

Ah, Kirsten, Katrina and the waves -- more memories come pounding in. My little sister drove me MAD playing Walking on Sunshine over and over and over again. Whenever I hear it now I groan... and then I grin. Thanks for the suggestion!

Anonymous said...

Good Job!!......................................................................

Laney4 said...

I keep thinking of an inspiring song, which in turn makes it a happy song: the Olympics theme song by Nikki Yanofsky, I BELIEVE.

I apologize that it isn't exactly the type of song I think you were looking for, but today, this minute, it is the song I can't get out of my head.

Mary Anne Landers said...

Thank you for your post, Michelle. You bring up how important it is for people to do fun things. Like you, I suspect such activities are necessary for staying sane in this crazy world.

The benefits might not be the kind science can measure, certainly not the kind that can be appraised in terms of dollars and cents---or pounds, shillings, pence; whatever. But the value is very real, and it significantly impacts how well we perform in our obviously useful tasks.

And for lots of us, fun activities include reading popular fiction, such as your novels. And for some, writing our own.

The feel-good song I most highly recommend is probably "If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out" by Cat Stevens. I also dig old novelty songs. My fave in this department is probably "Bongo Bongo Bongo (I Don't Want To Leave The Congo)", a weird but catchy little number made popular by Danny Kaye during (I think) the forties.

Keep up the good work!

Michelle Douglas said...

Laney4, don't apologise! I believe is a fab song. I have a songs-to-inspire playlist as well as my happy playlist -- just for those times when I need a kick-in-the-pants or an I-can-do-it lecture. You suggestion will certainly make it's way onto my ipod. Thanks!

Michelle Douglas said...

Mary Anne, I would definitely put reading (and writing!) popular fiction on the top of my fun things to do list. You're right -- it can keep a body sane.

My dh is a big Cat Stevens fan and you've chosen a great song. I will admit though, it's the novelty songs that have struck a chord with me -- my Dad thought it important for me and my sister's education. So we'd have singalongs to My Old Man's a Dustman, On Top of Spaghetti, Does You Chewing Gum Lose it's Flavour, etc. Am going to hunt up the Danny Kaye number that you mentioned.

Thanks for the suggestions!

Michelle Douglas said...

A huge thank you to everyone who left a suggestion for my "make-me-smile" play list! It was greatly appreciated.

And the winner of the copy of The Cattleman, The Baby and Me is Virginia C. Congratulations, Virginia! If you send me an email at michelle @ michelle-douglas. com (without the spaces) with your name and address, I'll pop it into the post asap.

Virginia C said...

Wow--thank you! I have emailed my info : )

Laurie said...

I immediately thought of a one hit wonder- Come On Eileen By Dexy's Midnight Runners. It's a really lively pick me up song.

I also like Beach Boy songs! I Get Around,
Fun, Fun, Fun etc

Michelle Douglas said...

Hi Laurie,

Ooh, I love the Beach Boys -- they really are fun, make you smile songs.

Dexy's Midnight Runners -- what a brilliant name for a band. I haven't heard Come on Eileen for an age. Am off to hunt it up.


Michelle Douglas said...

Thanks, Virginia!