Last week I went to see one of my absolute favourite singers, Devendra Banhart, playing at the Barbican in London. Devendra has long been one of my musical heroes and his albums have been the soundtrack to some of the best and most memorable adventures I’ve had in my life. Not only is he a brilliant writer with quirky lyrics and a quivering voice, he is also a gifted illustrator and, in my opinion, the most handsome that it’s possible to be. But last week, as I watched him at the celebration of nonesuch records 50th birthday, it was something he said in between songs rather than his music that captured my interest. Unaccompanied by a band he admitted that he felt nervous, saying “My challenge is can I enjoy being nervous? Can I enjoy feeling nervous because….I can’t help it!”
This simple statement really made me think about the joy that it’s possible to find in the moments when it’s tempting to succumb to feeling negative. Is it possible that by accepting the challenge and changing your attitude you can feel happy in each and every moment? From what he said that night Devendra Banhart seems to practice this way of being. He went on to tell a story about being held up at border control and how, by simply choosing to find something within the experience enjoyable, he remained happy in spite of the hold up. So this week I’ve been trying it out for myself. When I have felt fear I’ve sought out that little tingle of accompanying excitement and felt it slowly grow and replace the fear. When I’ve felt uncertainty I’ve flipped the way I’ve thought about it to focus on the possibility instead, and when I’ve made a mistake I’ve spent time getting to grips with the lesson it taught me and the opportunity that learning that lesson might bring. It might sound a bit fanciful but I have definitely felt happier by doing this and absolutely recommend taking a lesson from the Devendra Banhart School of Happiness and turning your negatives into positives!
And, if you don’t know his music, here’s one last burst of Devendra Banhart positivity: Can’t Help But Smiling