Dancing is a short-cut to happiness

Dance—it's the fastest way to go from feeling down to feeling upbeat

Happy woman dancing

It’s the ultimate expression of joy. Whenever we’re very happy, we feel like dancing. On the other hand, in sadness, it is difficult to dance. So, if you’re feeling low, and someone asks you to dance, you probably give him a stare that means, “Are you nuts?”

Well, here’s a secret. The next time someone tells you to dance when you’re sad, jump at the invitation—and you will feel joyous again. You see, if you are feeling low and you begin to dance, you’ll notice that your sadness and gloomy mood begin to dissipate.

Let me explain. Just like happiness makes us want to dance, dancing too makes us feel happy. This is because dance and joy are inseparable, so sadness leaves when you start dancing. Indeed, joyful dancing is just another proof of the invisible connection between our mind and body.

What’s more, there is enough scientific evidence of the therapeutic benefits of dancing. For instance, a study published in the science journal Frontiers found that “dancing potentially offers a ground for emotional coping through emotional enhancement and regulation”.

Spontaneous dancing

Note that I am not referring to dance as an art form. I am speaking about the spontaneous kind—one that is not premeditated or rehearsed but happens usually as a result of extreme joy or ecstasy. Such dancing transcends barriers of age, culture, geography and language. Anybody who feels joy feels like dancing. Likewise, anyone who dances spontaneously is bound to feel joy.

Little children seem to know this intuitively and that is why they have no hang ups about dancing whenever, wherever, with or without any reason. They don’t care about the steps — they just move their whole being without reservation.

Sadly, as we grow older, we lose the magic of spontaneity. We become conscious and cultivate an unnatural attitude towards dancing. Most adults look upon dance as a flippant act, to be indulged only on rare occasions when they let their hair down — in parties and social gatherings, for instance, or when they are in an inebriated state.

Cosmic dance

If you still doubt the power of dance, I invite you to reflect on the ancient Hindu scriptures that describe our universe—indeed the entire creation—as a cosmic dance of God, the ultimate dancer. That is why we can’t imagine a sad God. We visualise God as always blissful, always celebrating.

The most visible proof of this is found in Nature. Observe Nature, and you will see dance in its every movement—the flow of the rivers, the waves in the seas, the fluttering of the leaves, and the blowing of the winds. The entire creation is dancing with joy. It is hardly surprising then that dance meditations are part of many shamanic, aboriginal and other spiritual traditions.

Happy disabled man dancing on wheelchair
Image by unaihuiziphotography on Freepik

Dance away your woes

Best-selling writer Vicki Baum put this succinctly: “There are short-cuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.” I invite you to try this short-cut the next time you’re feeling sad or out of sorts. Don’t think or analyze. Drop all self-consciousness. Close the door if you feel like, or invite your kid or spouse to join you. Play some peppy music and start moving your feet and legs, your hand and arms, then your entire body. If you have any physical limitations, move whatever part of the body you can move — all you really need to do is to lose yourself in a rhythmic movement for as long as you can, without inhibition. Not only will you find that your spirits have lifted, you will also experience a renewed sense of energy and vitality — because dancing serves as an wonderful workout too.

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Manoj Khatri
Manoj Khatri is a counseling therapist, a wellbeing consultant and a teacher of mindfulness. He is also a writer-editor and has written on topics ranging from strategic marketing and business management to art, culture and even philosophy. His more than 1500 published stories—articles, interviews, full-length features—have appeared in some of the leading newspapers and magazines of India. He is the author of What a thought!, a critically acclaimed self-improvement book based on powerful ideas of some of the greatest thought leaders. Manoj runs Complete Wellbeing and believes that "peace begins with me".

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