ARTICLE: How To Be Happy Onstage

ARTICLE: How To Be Happy Onstage
First Edition: March 19, 2007
By Happy Ron Hill

In the 1991 book, Happiness Is A Choice, by Barry Neil Kaufman, Barry outlines 6 “shortcuts” to happiness. These ideas had a major impact on me as a person and as I try to refine myself as an artist I find these ideas are quite helpful

Please note that to use these ideas you don’t have to be singing “happy” songs. One of Barry’s main concepts is to “make friends with your unhappiness” and communicating unhappiness though music can itself be a road to happiness. Happiness shared is happiness multiplied, pain shared is pain divided.

IN LIFE: Most people have lists of things they want or “need” to be happy, but happiness itself is not on that list. Barry’s concept is that if you put happiness FIRST on the list of things you want, then you will be happy whether or not you get those things, and won’t be bogged down in the unhappiness that comes from not getting what you “need” to be happy.
IN PERFORMANCE: We often say things like “I’ll be happy IF I give a good performance” instead of “being happy will help my performance be better.” People often are looking for approval in performance, like subconsciously see the audience as a parent (usually of opposite gender). Rather then seek approval, think of yourself as having something to offer the audience.

IN LIFE: The more we free ourselves to be happy, the more distinct and unique we find that we all are.
IN PERFORMANCE: Time and time again I am amazed at how much an audience will respect a performer who goes out and is true to themselves. When I got into music seriously for the first time I was forty, bald, couldn’t sing, and walked with a limp, hardly the model for a successful popular musician, I dealt with that by putting all those elements directly into my songs and performance, never trying to be something I wasn’t. And people always tell me these things go into making me the unique performer that I am. All of us should be “unique performers”. As Alyssa Jacey says “how will YOU show them that YOU are different, one of a kind, and are WORTH THE WORLDS WHILE?”

IN LIFE: “Our rush to judgment usually distances us from the possibility of changing and creating personal miracles in our lives and cements us into being “stuck” in our unhappiness.” Page 201, Happiness Is A Choice.
IN PEFORMANCE: Beliefs like “I can’t sing”, “I have no talent”, “This person only create this kind of music” become self-fulfilling prophecies. Of course we should be honest with ourselves and others as to our current skill levels, but that doesn’t mean we have create unhappiness in ourselves as to where we currently stand, nor that we have to limit ourselves as to what we can potentially be in the future.

IN LIFE: “Unhappiness does not exist in the present moment… only as a reflection or regret about the past or as an anticipation or worry toward the future.” Page 219, Happiness is a Choice.
IN PERFORMANCE: Don’t attempt to re-create the “perfect performance and moment” onstage, thereby setting yourself up for disappointment and resentment towards the audience when that moment doesn’t happen exactly as it “should.” Instead create an ability to be in the moment with the audience so you can create each moment, in the moment, with them

IN LIFE: Gratitude is often expressed as forced “thank yous,” yet so often we don’t take the time to see the people and things in life that we can be grateful for, and how feeling gratitude enriches our lives as much as it enriches the lives of those we might express that gratitude towards.
IN PERFORMANCE: Never fails to amaze me how quickly we all take our success for granted, amazing giving how fleeting “success” in this business is. One time I actually remember hearing myself say “man life sucks; they only chanted my name 5 times tonight instead of 10”.

IN LIFE: Any of the above methods are simply different ways of making the decision to be happy. “By deciding to be happier (to dispense with our unhappiness) we acknowledge our capacity to choose our beliefs and feelings as well as to take a directorial role in guiding responses to events and people with a clear and conscious intention. “ Page 249, Happiness is a Choice.
IN PERFORMANCE: In most polls people put “fear of public embarrassment” as their number one fear, ahead of the fear of death! I like to say that the first time you perform if you can get through it without throwing up you’ve done well.
Being a performer places us square on the path of experiences that most people are terrified of and yet many long for more then anything. How we chose emotionally to respond to these experiences will to a great extent determine our success and the quality of our lives.
Interestingly enough, in a separate tape on leadership (and performers are obviously leaders in a way) when Barry lists the qualities of an effective leader he does NOT put “Happiness” first, but second, after “clarity of purpose.” Many great leaders, IE Hitler, were obviously greatly unhappy, dishonest, judgmental, and un-grateful. If you have a “clear purpose” and express it, people will follow, but it will be an unhappy road.
The point is that to be effective as a performer you have to have a clear purpose, a clear sense of who you are and where you are going, whether you are “happy” or not. Of course if you have a “clear purpose” and are happy, then it can be even more effective and a more pleasant journey. If there is enough interest I may write a separate article on some of the concepts in that tape.
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