How Justin Bieber Taught Me The Secret To Happiness

Why I Listen To Justin Bieber?

I am writing to you today to make a confession. This news may shock and appall you but I can no longer keep it a secret. My name is Toku habit coach, mindfulness expert, and personal trainer; and I listen to Justin Bieber.

I know what you’re thinking. How could I listen to the drab poppy drivel that only tweens think pass for music? Don’t I feel shallow, small, and maybe even immature? Don’t I have any taste or even a sense of musical decency?

Well to answer you yes I have those things and yet I still like Justin Bieber’s music. Well at least some of it.

The Way To Cool

You see growing up in Nashville I developed this hip taste in music. I liked obscure bands and odd time signatures. And I decried top 40 country and pop music stars that drained the pockets of the American public.

Being a music snob made me feel good. I made me feel like I was better, smarter, and more refined than the masses. It inflated my ego and allowed me to scoff with disdain at music that was below my pure and refined ears.

But then one day a few years back I was sitting in a car listening to the radio. And as I did, a Katy Perry song came on. You may know it. The song is called firework and the lyrics are pretty cheesy.

At first, I felt resistance and that same scoff coming to my lips. But then something else started to happen. I started to like it a little bit. My foot started tapping and my head started bobbing. I was jamming and even though that inner music snob objected, I stayed with it. And as I did it grew on me.

Pretty soon I found myself tuning the radio to the top 40 station more often. And appreciating the wares of Ms. Perry, Mr. Bieber, and even Ms. Kei$ha. And while I knew that their work didn’t hold a candle to great bands like Radiohead or Led Zeppelin and classical masters like Beethoven or Rachmaninoff. I still liked them just the same.

Like What You Like

What changed was that I stopped worrying about what I should like and instead embraced what I did like. I realized that by limiting myself to the erudite and the refined I was missing out on a huge part of life.

I realized that life is too short to limit what you like. The older we get, the pickier we become. We decide we like this and not that. And while it’s important to know what you enjoy, it’s just as important to challenge that definition as often as possible.

We think that by knowing what we like or by refining our tastes that we will be happier and better people. But in reality our preferences just limit our opportunities for enjoyment. If instead we expand what we like and make space for new kinds of satisfaction. We can learn to find happiness almost anywhere.

Take the Bieber Challenge

I challenge you to go to YouTube right now and watch this Justin Bieber video, without judgment or preconceived notions.

See if you can find the part of yourself that likes this music. It may be hard at first but give it time. And if you still don’t like it, that’s ok, just be open to the experience.

And I don’t want you to stop there. I want you to do this whenever you can. When you find yourself talking to someone at a party you think is shallow or boring, see if you can find a way to like them and be interested in what they have to say.

When you approach life, as an opportunity to find happiness as opposed to a battle to maintain your standards it’s much easier to find the bright simple joy that mindful living is all about.


4 thoughts on “How Justin Bieber Taught Me The Secret To Happiness

  1. Oh Toku, Jeff and I took the Bieber challenge after I read this entry, and Jeff says that “everyone won!” 🙂 And you know how snobby I am about music too…
    Thanks for another beautiful post!

  2. I think many of the criticisms against Bieber has less to do with his music and more to do with everything non-musical about him. He’s seen as being unfairly lucky, since he was only discovered by accident when a talent scout clicked on a YouTube video of his by mistake (when trying to aim for an adjacent link), which reinforces the notion of how much luck seems to be involved in being successful in this world, despite all the hard work of so many talented and amazing people.

    He’s also seen as being truly arrogant and egotistical, having let his fame get to his head, from all reports I’ve heard. But realistically, should that be a reason to not enjoy his music? After all, despite all of Michael Jackson’s infamous lawsuits and allegations, people still love his music. (However, I guess it’s easier to prove someone is being a colossal nitwit than it is to prove someone is a child molester.) I guess the bottom line is to examine our emotional prejudices and whether or not it’s ethical to refuse the work of someone we’ve already judged for conducting unethical behavior (assuming we judge correctly).

  3. Toku, thank you so much for sharing this. I was having the exact same thoughts about Justin Bieber music last month. One day I was devoted to being mindful and suddenly realize that I was skipping a lot when I play music on my iTune. I was feeling unsatisfied whenever I has to play music from my collection. I went through it and see that I dislike the music from artists that I “listen” to, but I have them or say that I listen to them just because they are pretty cool. I think, and praise myself on having good taste of music and judge people based on what they listen to.
    I then listen to Justin Bieber’s catchy tune, and I love it! I used to see him as my guilty pleasure music, but now it is just pleasure, joy, something that gives me joy and I don’t even need to beat myself over it.
    We ( just I ) care so much about what other people think, we see things in the world that we surround with as who we are and judge ourselves based on it, create an image of self based on the deceptions we tell ourselves. Sometime it is good but lot of the times they just makes us become unhappy without knowing why. Everyone is beautiful in their own way.
    Thank you for sharing!

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