My family was talking about happiness the other evening. The six of us adults were having the usual banter back and forth about how to define happiness. Is it contentment? Is it measured in success? Is it just a fleeting emotion, whereas satisfaction a more lasting one?

We never came to any conclusions, just a lot of interesting discussion. I went to bed later and for no reason, no reason at all, that little nursery rhyme popped into my head.

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.” What a silly song.

And I wondered, I guess because I’m a musician, if he/she wrote the melody first, and then fit the words to the melody. I wondered why he had put “and you know it” into the song. Was it just to fit in with the melody? Or did he really write that part of it for a reason?

As I lay there trying to clear my mind and fall asleep, I kept thinking about it. Maybe “and you know it” is the key to happiness.

When I was young, I dieted a lot. I was never happy with what I weighed. I waited to buy nice clothes always hoping those final ten pounds would come off. Then I would go out and buy the clothes and look nice. Little did I know that what I weighed back then would be the best I ever weighed. I never lost those final ten pounds, as they turned into twenty, then thirty… I’ll stop there! I didn’t appreciate the way I was.

There is an old Roman writer, Marcus Aurelius, who wrote,” No man is happy who does not think himself so.”

Maybe “If you’re happy and you know it” IS the secret to being happy. To be aware of the marvelous, amazing things in our lives. I have a wonderful family, live in a beautiful part of the country, have enough money to get by.

We were just on vacation in the central coast of California, and one day down at the ocean, watching the huge waves pound the rocky shore, I suddenly felt something so strongly. I was happy. Completely and utterly happy. Seeing the beauty around me, Christmas in a few days, surrounded by family- I realized how incredibly lucky I was.

I was happy- AND I knew it. Now if I can only keep that awareness in mind as often as I can, it will be a wonderful new year.

Whoever wrote that song was a lot smarter than anyone has ever given him credit for.