What is happiness to you?
Happiness means different things to different people. Like what the great philosopher Aristotle once said, “Happiness depends upon ourselves”. For some people, happiness is the delightful discovery of a (forgotten) pint of ice cream hidden at the back of the freezer, or finding a dollar on a grassy pathway. For others, happiness is the jubilation of getting accepted into the university or the joyful moment of receiving good news from the doctor.
There is one general meaning of happiness no matter the individual definition: positive emotions in the form of pleasure, comfort, gratitude, hope, and inspiration, among others. Happiness is not always about the obvious—sometimes, it comes in a form of quiet merriment and contentment, or a firm resolve for change.
In this list, we will see these emotions (and their nuances) through songs that put people in high spirits and inspire them to get up, go out, and get moving!
Top 25 Songs About Being Happy
1. “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina & The Waves
Let’s start the list with an effervescent pop tune that’s been shining its happiness-inducing rays upon those who choose to listen for almost four decades. How can a song with simple lyrics, simple chords, and a simple guitar solo sound so smashing?
This song describes the state of euphoria one gets when they fall in love and get loved in return. The catchy beat and the infectiously cheerful chorus that goes I’m walking on sunshine, whoa, and don’t it feel good… are enough to chase the blues away, at least for a while. And when we get back to reality, we will find ourselves in a much fresher, can-do mood!
2. “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys
Sometimes we just need songs that bring on sunny, happy vibes to lift our moods. The Beach Boys brought a boatful of cheerful tunes in the airwaves decades ago, and “Good Vibrations” was one of the fan favorites.
The snappy beat and playful lyrics enclosed in multi-layered keys and harmonies will up your dopamine when it’s hitting low. The song is best listened to while catching some sunshine and fresh air. And don’t be shy singing along to that “oom bop bop good vibrations…”
3. “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong
This is one of the most optimistic, sentimental, and beautifully uplifting songs the world has ever heard. The song’s pleasantly poignant expression of what makes this life wonderful (pictured through bits of happy moments) will take you back to those good old days long gone.
Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful Word” takes on a whole new meaning in these crazy times. Just when the world is slowly recovering from a bout of the pandemic, it is facing political troubles that are poised to threaten it yet again. Truly, amid the distressing circumstances, it is nice to be reminded of those simple happy moments we can indulge in; they just might spark hope within us. And that’s what we need right now.
4. “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston
This song has been used in many films and TV shows a lot, especially to complement happy, carefree, and triumphant scenes. And why not? The Grammy award-winning “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” never fails to have people dancing while abandoning all their troubles to oblivion. When Whitney Houston starts singing “Clock strikes upon the hour, and the sun begins to fade, still enough time to figure out, how to chase my blues away…” we know there’s no other way but to channel her indomitable spirit within us.
Fun Fact: This song was chosen by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for their first dance at their wedding reception, to the shock and delight of many. According to Markle, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” is her happy song. Well, we know why it is a popular happy song.
5. “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called “life”.” The opening line of this Prince classic tells us that life is one hell of a roller coaster ride and that the best way to deal with it is, well, get crazy!
The song has a religious undertone to it; there is an allude to an afterlife being kinder, where happiness never ends. “Let’s Go Crazy” is about celebrating the life we all are still lucky to have. One day, we will all leave this world, and that something better awaits us on the other side. But for now, get crazy and bask in the happy thought that someday, we will be saved from this mad, mad world!
6. “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield
This song overflows with so much hope, inspiration, and bliss it’s the perfect anthem for when you are feeling overwhelmed by all the madness around you. “Unwritten” reminds us that each day is a fresh, blank slate and it’s up to us how we want to fill it. Translation: we get another chance at life each day and it is open for all possibilities; make the most of it.
Something about this song: Natasha Bedingfield wrote “Unwritten” for his younger brother on his 14th birthday. She said in an interview, “I was on the road, so I wrote a song for him, thinking of what someone his age needs to hear, what I wish I had heard at that point in my life. There are a lot of pressures and expectations.” Such a wonderful, thoughtful gift!
7. “Best Days” by Juice
This song has been a part of most millennials’ journey transitioning to adulthood. “Best Days” is a feel-good RnB telling everyone: “You take the good times with the bad, how else would you know happy from sad?” and that they know “It might not be easy, but nevertheless, these are the best days (of our lives)…”
We wouldn’t know—and appreciate—happiness without sadness as a point of comparison. Feeling a little blue? Don’t worry; happiness will soon find you. Don’t give up, and don’t let anyone and anything stop you.
8. “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen
Freddie Mercury’s high-spirited hit as the unstoppable Mr. Fahrenheit sings about living life to the fullest. The song is peppered with good vibes everywhere that it’s hard to imagine Mercury actually wrote “Don’t Stop Me Now” as a reference to the most difficult time of his life.
Not the one to succumb to feelings of emptiness, Freddie Mercury spun a happy, energetic tune out of the most trying stage of his existence when he felt lost and out of control. Maybe this shows that we have the power to define every moment in our lives that even if we are down in the dumps, we can still choose to have a good time—that is if we first choose to become unstoppable. We are no Freddie Mercury and we may not have that kind of zeal he had, but maybe some uplifting happy songs can help awaken our tenacity.
9. “Life” by Des’ree
Des’ree sings about joie de vivre through happy satisfaction and enjoyment of everything it offers, from what seems to be ordinary and unexciting things (a piece of toast while watching the evening news) to downright adventurous ones (bungee jumping, flying around the world in a balloon).
Randomness of the lyrics aside, “Life” is the kind of song we can all listen to when we are craving for that relaxed, easy-going, and happy ambiance. The song was not meant to be deep, but rather silly and cheerful; sometimes, we just want to feel the song and not obsess so much over its meaning. Just like this song, life sometimes doesn’t make sense and can be random that way; just enjoy and have fun!
10.“I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash
Dark clouds disappear, pain and bad feelings vanish; a rainbow comes out, the sky becomes blue. Johnny Nash sings in the elation of being able to overcome adversities and looking forward to a brighter, sunshiny day.
The lively tune, bubbly chorus, and affirmative lyrics blend perfectly well into one happy song. It paints a mental picture of blue skies and rainbows and singing birds guaranteed to make anyone feel calmer and happier. It’s a great addition to any pick-me-up playlist!
11.“Lovely Day” by Bill Withers
This jazzy and optimistic song about welcoming a lovely day together with the SO (or significant other) provides the perfect easy listening background music. This song has that mood-altering power, with Bill Withers singing “And I know it’s gonna be a lovely day…” (holding the last note for about 18 seconds) over and over enough to convince ourselves that, you guessed it, today is gonna be a lovely day.
If you are facing a tough day ahead, open your windows and play this song, sing your heart out (do it; it’s an effective mood enhancer), and feel yourself become less stressed and more happy.
12.“I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross
This celebratory song is often associated with “coming out of the closet”—a declaration of being gay. Actually, this song was inspired by the writer’s small encounter at a New York City gay bar. While doing his business at the bathroom, three Diana Ross impersonators came in. Then, the song was born.
There’s another angle to the song: it was written as a sort of goodbye song as Diana Ross leaves Berry Gordy’s Motown Record in 1980. But what we do really know? “I’m Coming Out” radiates so much enthusiasm in every line it spreads positive motivation no matter how we interpret this song.
13. “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley & The Wailers
Bob Marley delivers his usual feel-good reggae recipe through “Three Little Birds”, a song bearing a message of hope and motivation. Who wouldn’t feel the happy and carefree vibes in this track, especially when Bob Marley sings “Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing gonna be all right…”
Some people say that being happy means being at peace with ourselves; to do that, we have to let go of the fears and worries that we have. Maybe those fears and worries are not the ones gripping us; maybe it’s just us holding on to them? If we learn to unhand them and just let life flow like how it should (because, really, nobody can stop its force), then we will be as happy and relaxed as the three little birds singing by the doorstep.
14.“I’m Like a Bird” by Nelly Furtado
As we have pointed out in the previous entry, happiness entails freeing ourselves from things that tie us down and prevent us from being at peace with ourselves. That’s what happiness is also about—being free! And that’s what Nelly Furtado wistfully sings about in “I’m Like a Bird.”
Although the song has an undertone of uncertainty (and a bit of fear) for what tomorrow may bring, it still imparts that delightfully empowering and happy tune. When you’ve finally found inner peace, you will definitely be singing about being on cloud nine, flying free like a bird.
15.“All You Need is Love” by The Beatles
Love is everything, according to this song with a one-note chorus (and an unusual 7/4 tempo). The Beatles explores the utter blissfulness of accomplishing whatever you set your heart to do, thanks to love. “All You Need Is Love” was a popular anti-war slogan in the 1960s.
As anyone can see, this song is pretty straightforward. It can’t get any more simple than this, as its concept arose from a request to create a song that people of all nations would easily understand. “All You Need is Love” implies that genuine love will compel everything else to work and fall into place. And though it didn’t stop a war, the song evoked a feeling of harmony and happiness in everyone.
16.“Falling” by Haim
Teeming with ecstatic self-realization, the song’s essence is about realizing our potential—when we finally get what we have been looking for or become the person we have always wanted to be. It talks about becoming more introspective and allowing our minds to be more open. And when we trust and take that leap of faith, we just might find pure bliss.
“Falling” is a great cheer-up song if you’re running low; according to Danielle Haim: “I think we wrote the song at a time when . . . nothing was really happening. We kinda wrote it as a ‘Stay strong’ kind of cheerleading song.” The song exudes so much triumphant joy experienced through introspection and seeing beyond what others say.
17.“I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas
Some smart genius once said: Life’s a party! And boy, is it a crazy one! “I Gotta Feeling” is among the quintessential party anthems that will surely get everyone feeling cock-a-hoop.
This song is all about feeling good and having fun; it’s about letting go of inhibitions and care, and just getting absorbed in moments of merrymaking. The Black Eyes Peas urges you to get up and dance; “tonight’s gonna be a good, good night,” so just party and laugh and be happy! Feel alive!
18.“Firework” by Katy Perry
If you’re feeling low and insecure and just generally unhappy about yourself and everything that’s been going on around you, Katy Perry has a message for you: “Do you know that there’s still a chance for you? ‘Cause there’s a spark in you… you just gotta ignite the light and let it shine…” If this song doesn’t make you instantly confident and happy, then I don’t know what will.
“Firework” explores the common woes that plague many people in these crazy times, and why we should break through and break out and create our mark in the world. If we learn to draw strength from our own uniqueness, then we will learn to be happy about ourselves.
19.“Dynamite” by BTS
Two years ago, the whole world was under a threat: an unseen enemy that had people living in fear, countries locking down, and great nations on their knees. It was devastating, to say the least. Many lost their job, companies shut down, and medical professionals cried for mercy—they couldn’t accommodate the mounting number of patients being brought in. The world was desperately seeking relief and hope. Then, the Bangtan Boys came up with a song to help people find freedom and happiness amid the tough times through dance and music.
The Grammy-nominated feel-good song brought new life, joy, and energy to their fans. Just like how the song goes, “life is sweet as honey” and “life is dynamite”; it is full of surprises, and we cannot do anything about it. Just light it up like dynamite.
20.“Happy” by Alexia
The saccharine-infused song has a nice late 90s ring in it that conjures memories of young and carefree days when people only cared about being happy and having a good time (rather than orchestrating stuff for the likes and follows).
Alexia sings about how “it’s so nice to be happy” and that “everybody should be happy”, because everyone deserves it, plain and simple. The danceable beat and sunny tune are enough to sprinkle some sweetness on a rather bleak day.
21.“Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper
Ah, yes… We do! When we think of fun, happy, whoop-it-up songs, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” has got to be on the lineup! This Cyndi Lauper classic is centered on the concept of women rebelling against being denied the right to enjoy their lives (maybe it was that way with the working girls in the past; what a terrible thing!).
Even though this song was released almost four decades ago, it still feels so refreshing and liberating to hear. It’s a perfect anthem for modern ladies looking for happiness in a world filled with seriousness and constraints.
22.“Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake’s 2016 disco-pop hit is sunshine in a song: it is happy, fun, and bright, and makes anyone want to boogie. Kinda reminds us of the same happy feeling we get when we listen to other happy songs like “Lovely Day.” Oh, wait, “Can’t Stop the Feeling” is actually inspired by the said Bill Withers song.
Other than the Bill Withers influence, this track is also driven by a retro bassline reminiscent of Michael Jackson, along with other audio elements of drums, electric guitar, synthesizer, and other party vibe-enhancing features.
23.“Rainbow’s End” by Sergio Mendes
What is it about the rainbow’s end? Apparently, based on this song, it’s somewhere you can get inspiration, hope, and comfort—the essential ingredients for happiness. “Rainbow’s End” talks about having the resolve to break free from the bounds of unhappiness.
The path to happiness often entails us leaving some things behind to make room for new possibilities. “I have a dream that I hold in my heart, and I won’t let go, welcome tomorrow, I’m on my way…So goodbye yesterday, goodbye yesterday…” You know what they say: if you want to be happy, follow your heart.
24.“Happy” by Pharrell Williams
This catchy and fun Pharrell Williams favorite tells us that if we choose to be happy at all times, nothing can ever bring us down. We just keep bopping and clapping in glee.
You see, it’s such a straight-up song about being happy: throughout the song, the word happy appears 56 times. And although this Despicable Me 2 soundtrack lost to Frozen’s “Let it Go”, “Happy” bagged the 2015 Grammy Awards for the Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Music Video.
25. “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin
Let’s end this list with a song entry that displays exhibits relentless optimism, even in the face of such life troubles as losing one’s apartment and being broke (well, we see why the rent was late).
Fun Fact: There are no instruments used in this song (as you’ve probably already noticed that the song is a capella). Bobby McFerrin’s voice creates all of the effects, including background, bass, and percussion. “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” became the first a cappella song in history to top the Billboard Hot 100. Rolling Stone named it one of the “15 Best Whistling Songs of All Time” in 2011.
“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future;
it is something you design for the present.” -Jim Rohn
Ask yourself: Am I feeling happy right now? If yes, that’s great! If not, that’s okay, too! It’s quite understandable that it’s not always easy (or even realistic) to choose to be happy all the time. But do yourself a favor: don’t let your day end without you smiling or laughing about anything. There are thousands of reasons in life to be sad but when we concentrate on the positive sides, life becomes the best! Need a push? Then just listen, dance, and sing along to your favorite happy tunes.