By Leah Maxwell

12 songs to make you happy right now

When I was a teenager, I worked hard to hone my skills compiling mix tapes full of Sad Songs to Wallow To. (Listen, breaking up with your boyfriend of three weeks is super tragic.) Even now, twenty years later, those are the songs that can instantly transport me back to those times of high angst, and if you’ve ever experienced this phenomenon (and haven’t we all?), you already know how much power music has to not only reflect our moods but also shape them, as well as shape our memories of certain times and places.

It’s in this spirit that I invite everyone to put their old mix-tape skills to work and start creating a custom collection of feel-good songs. Songs that make us smile, that remind us of good times, that can turn a bad mood on its head. Happy Songs to Get Up and Dance To.   

I’ve listed some of my favorites below (and probably embarrassed myself in the process, but, oh well...):

1. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Just because it’s an obvious choice doesn’t mean it’s not a good one. This is the happiness anthem of our time.

2. “Say Hey (I Love You)” by Michael Franti and Spearhead. Turn it up and then go dance in the street.

3. “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. Queue this up when you need to get pumped, whether for a blind date or a PTA meeting.

4. “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey. This is a classic, but anything that makes you close your eyes and sing at the top of your lungs with one fist clutched passionately to your chest will have a similar mood-boosting effect.

5. “Kodachrome” by Paul Simon. A good reminder to live life in color.

6. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” by Iz Kamakawiwo’ole. It’s not high-energy, but it will fill you with warmth and wonder.

7. “Hey Ya!” by OutKast. Before Taylor Swift had us all shake, shake, shaking it off (also a great pick), remember how we were all shaking it like a Polaroid picture?

8. “I Got You (I Feel Good)” by James Brown. And oldie and a goodie.

9. “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” by Weezer. Get ready to jump up and down during the chorus.

10. “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves. The answer to “Don’t it feel good?” is YES.

11. “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin. It’s not always that simple...but sometimes it is.

12. “MMMBop” by Hanson. We’re all friends here, so don’t pretend you’re too good for this.


Don't miss your happier boost!

Subscribe to our weekly email to get practical tips and inspiration to help you feel more joyful and resilient.