Help me surround myself with happy.
September 8, 2009 8:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for uplifting, happy-making songs, books, movies, and other media.

Life-affirming, joyful, inspiring, silly, light-hearted, motivating: if any of these descriptions apply, it's just what I'm looking for. Some quick examples off the top of my head: "Bright as Yellow" by Innocence Mission and "Dear Prudence" by The Beatles for music; "Groundhog Day" for movies.

I'd like to avoid any significant amount of negativity. Stories about overcoming are powerful, I know, but I definitely don't want to go on an emotional roller-coaster to get to the happy ending. Much as I love it, something like "Ikiru" would mostly depress the hell out of me.

I have pretty wide-ranging taste, so throw 'em at me. No overtly religion-oriented suggestions, please.

(Back story: I'm struggling a bit with depression, and needing to create a positive environment for myself in as many aspects as I can. When I listen to music or watch a movie, I want to feel lightened by it. I'm addressing the depression itself, no worries.)
posted by moira to Media & Arts (48 answers total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
A few years ago whenever I felt a bit overwhelmed I could always count on the movie "City Slickers" to help ease my woes.
posted by boatsforshoes at 8:37 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Brand New Day - Tim Meyers
posted by kylej at 8:39 PM on September 8, 2009

Love this Youtube video.
posted by purlgurly at 8:39 PM on September 8, 2009 [3 favorites]

Stardust! Just a sweet little fantasy movie (and book).
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:39 PM on September 8, 2009

I thought the movie "Once" was great because I kept waiting the whole time for it to turn dark but it never did.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:39 PM on September 8, 2009

Here's the link to brand new day.
posted by kylej at 8:42 PM on September 8, 2009

movie: Happy Go Lucky

i'll be back with some songs..!
posted by gursky at 8:43 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Easter Parade
posted by hermitosis at 8:45 PM on September 8, 2009

Movies: Ever After, The Princess Bride, Amelie
posted by purlgurly at 8:45 PM on September 8, 2009

Possible you've already seen it, but Julie and Julia is a movie about generally happy people in strong, supportive relationships finding meaning and purpose in their lives. Quite likely the most positive movie I've ever seen.
posted by carterk at 8:56 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Books - anything by Tom Robbins (his latest is a children's book about beer!)
Jasper Fforde's Nursery Crimes series

Music - Pinback, Menomena, The Submarines all tend to cheer me up.

I'm reluctant to suggest movies, since you say you don't want to go on a roller coaster emotional ride, but use Groundhog Day as your example ... I seem to remember the whole point of the movie was his emotional ups and downs.
posted by mannequito at 9:00 PM on September 8, 2009

upbeat songs:

i'm glad i hitched my apple wagon to your star - The Boy Least Likely To
open your heart - Lavender Diamond
mr. e's beautiful blues - eels
scar - Missy Higgins (link is to a live version)
australia - The Shins
lolita - Stereophonics
colourful life - Cajun Dance Party
don't wanna wait forever - The Saint Alvia Cartel
a new name for everything - The Weakerthans

motivating & inspiring songs:

whatever it is - Ben Lee
a better son/daughter - Rilo Kiley
steer - Missy Higgins
posted by gursky at 9:01 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

oops! my link to Cajun Dance Party appears to be broken...
here it is.
posted by gursky at 9:02 PM on September 8, 2009

movies: My Neighbor Totoro, Strictly Ballroom, Fly Away Home, True Stories (also packed with feel good songs!), Babbette's Feast

Songs: The English Beat "Ackee 123," Stevie Wonder "Sir Duke," Pulp "Glory Days," Queen "Crazy Little Thing Called Love"
posted by Sara Anne at 9:04 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Andy Griffith Show
posted by boatsforshoes at 9:05 PM on September 8, 2009

If you can handle Japanese music videos:

Miki Imai's Piece of My Wish

a bit more up-tempo: ELT's jump

HALCALI's Marching March; c/w It's Party Time!.
posted by Palamedes at 9:16 PM on September 8, 2009

Go get yourself The Funk Box.

Jane Austen, Patrick O'Brian.

Amélie, The Secret of Roan Inish, Spirited Away, ST: TNG.

Proust got me through a pretty bad period, but I wouldn't exactly call it happy.
posted by shothotbot at 9:22 PM on September 8, 2009

I don't know if you like stand-up, but I have watched Eddie Izzard's "Dress to Kill" at least 20 times and every single time it makes me laugh my ass off.

Some other movies that never fail to cheer me up: Major League (there is some adversity, but it's mostly funny adversity) and Coming to America. A delightful bonus: laughing at what people wore in the '80s and/or comparing the wardrobes to American Apparel's current offerings.

For reading, I enjoy mental_floss magazine. It's lighthearted, full of information, and always leaves me feeling like I learned something without having to make an effort. For me, at least, that's uplifting!
posted by bedhead at 9:32 PM on September 8, 2009

Some upbeat songs for you!

Jamie Lidell - Another Day (pardon the official music video, which is a little surreal).

Feist - 1234.

Math and Physics Club - Baby I'm Yours

A wonderful jazz track is Sunny Side of the Street, played here by Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, and Sonny Stitt.
posted by AAAAAThatsFiveAs at 9:54 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, gotta add:

Jens Lekman - Kanske är jag kär i dig
posted by AAAAAThatsFiveAs at 10:00 PM on September 8, 2009

U900 ukelele duo playing Isogabamaware (Youtube video). Watch the other 2 videos on that channel.

I second My Neighbor Totoro and also suggest My Neighbors the Yamadas. Kiki's Delivery Service, Howl's Moving Castle and Ponyo also get me in a good mood, although they have a bit more conflict than the two first.

If you like comics, Yotsuba&! is a charming manga about a little girl who finds happiness in everything. It's also very funny and the art is very nice. I think there are 6 volumes out.
posted by clearlydemon at 10:01 PM on September 8, 2009

More songs: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists "Walking To Do," The mountain Goats "Quito," Michelle Shocked "Come A Long Way," Otis Redding "Hello Sunshine," Mirah "Person Person," The Stone Roses "She Bangs the Drums,"Le Tigre "Hot Topic"
posted by Sara Anne at 10:04 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Song: Happiness - Goldfrapp
posted by [insert clever name here] at 10:24 PM on September 8, 2009

This is a really great question. Some of my favorites:

Such Great Heights by the Postal Service
Smiley Faces by Gnarls Barkley
Staralfur by Sigur Ros
It's a New Day by
Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard by Paul Simon
Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves
Bust a Move by Young MC
Don't Stop by Fleetwood Mac
Falling Slowly, from the aforementioned "Once"

Sense and Sensibility, the Ang Lee version
Love Actually (overall extremely uplifting, though there are a couple of sad storylines in this one)
The Sound of Music (I know, there are Nazis. But also, singing!)
Seconding Julie and Julia. That movie put me in a good mood for a week.
What About Bob?
School of Rock
Dazed and Confused

TV shows available on DVD that never fail to perk me up:
Gilmore Girls
The Office (esp the 2nd and 3rd seasons)
30 Rock
posted by lunasol at 10:45 PM on September 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

Queen's set at Live Aid.
posted by clorox at 10:47 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

a number of the early Style Council singles: Speak Like a Child, Headstart for Happiness, and A Solid Bond in Your Heart.
posted by scody at 10:53 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, and how could I forget: The Divine Comedy, Tonight We Fly. Gorgeous!
posted by scody at 10:58 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sorry to triple-post, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I think George Harrison's What Is Life may be one of the purest, happiest love songs ever. And it doesn't even really have to specifically connote romantic love; whenever I listen to it, I imagine dancing around with my adorable nephews. Joy!
posted by scody at 11:06 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yellow Submarine (the movie) always does it for me.
posted by philip-random at 11:07 PM on September 8, 2009

on preview ... wow! Two George Harrison songs in a row.
posted by philip-random at 11:08 PM on September 8, 2009

Fountains of Wayne's cover of the Kinks' "Better Days". Not only for the music (perfect power-pop energizing, air-guitaring, dancing-around-the-room-goofy-smiling) but for the lyrics, which are extremely a propos here.
posted by sesquipedalia at 11:13 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Woody Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters" is very life affirming.
posted by gfrobe at 1:13 AM on September 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

The JCB song by Nizlopi.
posted by Harald74 at 1:27 AM on September 9, 2009

A-Punk - Vampire Weekend
Daylight - Matt and Kim
She's A Rainbow - The Rolling Stones
The Way We Get By - Spoon
The Staunton Lick - Lemon Jelly
Lights and Music - Cut Copy
posted by clearly at 1:32 AM on September 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

PJ Wodehouse
Joe Keenan,
Stella Gibbons' Cold Comfort Farm (girl arrives at gothic downtrodden farmhouse and sorts people jolly well out, if you don't take it personally as a "snap out of it" response to depression its the funniest thing you will ever read)

Dolly Parton
Dean Martin

Have I Got News for You
Stephen Fry
Fry & Laurie

But mainly
Community Music on very. loud. right through Taa Deem
posted by runincircles at 1:47 AM on September 9, 2009

Any interest in Britcoms? I would highly recommend The Vicar of Dibley and As Time Goes By. And now I'm done. :)
posted by purlgurly at 2:28 AM on September 9, 2009

Song: Octopus's Garden - The Beatles. Foolproof.
TV Show: Mock the Week / Father Ted
Book: Seconding Wodehouse. Also perhaps earlier Terry Pratchett. It depends whether you like that sort of thing though (comic fantasy). Avoid the later ones which are in my opinion both less funny and less accomplished.
posted by Ziggy500 at 4:50 AM on September 9, 2009

Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows -- Lesley Gore
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden -- Lynn Anderson
posted by jmmpangaea at 5:40 AM on September 9, 2009

Seconding P.G. Wodehouse
posted by molybdenumblue at 8:06 AM on September 9, 2009

This qualifies as silly, I think. Pure cotton candy music that has been making me secretly happy lately.

Owl City - Hot Air Balloon. (and any other song really.) Warning: synth, TWEE.
posted by peep at 9:01 AM on September 9, 2009

Wodehouse, certainly.

This is a curiously subjective question, though. For instance, I've listened pretty deeply to Pinback's first album, and I would never consider it to fit the criteria here, yet someone else has named them as a source. You probably have to figure out for yourself what works.
posted by OmieWise at 9:22 AM on September 9, 2009

Wow, thank you so much, everybody. What great suggestions. Some are old favorites of mine that I'd forgotten about. I'll get to work building up my respective libraries.

"I'm reluctant to suggest movies, since you say you don't want to go on a roller coaster emotional ride, but use Groundhog Day as your example ... I seem to remember the whole point of the movie was his emotional ups and downs."

Hmm, I didn't remember it having a bunch of negativity, but it's been a while since I've seen it. Maybe it was a poor example.

(MetaFilter has been randomly marking answers as "Best" for me, when it's not my intention to mark them at all. They're pretty much all fantastic; I can't justify picking out a few.)
posted by moira at 9:56 AM on September 9, 2009

Happiest song I know at the moment is The Great Escape. Enjoy!
posted by Spyder's Game at 12:00 PM on September 9, 2009

Echoing others' suggestions of Once and Amelie.

Music-wise, I recommend anything by Sambassadeur.
posted by puritycontrol at 2:09 PM on September 9, 2009

Fountains of Wayne's cover of the Kinks' "Better Days".

Also, Dar Williams' live version, with Gail Ann Dorsey, is truly a mood-elevator. It's on her album, "Out There Live."
posted by lunasol at 2:15 PM on September 9, 2009

Update: Ackee 1 2 3 had all three of us up and dancing tonight (including the 3-yr-old). Thanks again!
posted by moira at 6:39 PM on September 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Glad you enjoyed Ackee 123! I wanted to mention James Herriot's memoirs, starting with All Creatures Great and Small, always cheer me up when I'm down.
posted by Sara Anne at 1:49 PM on September 10, 2009

For posterity! iTunes has a playlist of happy songs called "Positivity," found in iTunes Essentials. Here's a list of the songs:

What a Wonderful World (Single) - Louis Armstrong
Beautiful Day - U2
I Got You (I Feel Good) - James Brown
Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield
Walking On Sunshine - Katrina & The Waves
Don't Worry, Be Happy - Bobby McFerrin
I Can See Clearly Now - Johnny Nash
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) - Simon & Garfunkel
Three Little Birds - Bob Marley
Lovely Day - Bill Withers
Don't Stop - Fleetwood Mac
Dancing in the Street - Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
A Beautiful Morning - The Rascals
Mr. Blue Sky - Electric Light Orchestra
Love Train - The O'Jays
Suddenly I See - KT Tunstall
Celebration (Single Version) - Kool & The Gang
Flashdance - What a Feeling (Radio Edit) - Irene Cara
(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher - Jackie Wilson
Wonderful World, Beautiful People - Jimmy Cliff
Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys
Getting Better - Smash Mouth
Oh Happy Day - The Edwin Hawkins Singers
Put a Little Love in Your Heart (Duet with Annie Lennox) - Al Green & Annie Lennox
All Star - Smash Mouth
I'm Coming Out - Diana Ross
Amazing Grace - Elvis Presley & The Nashville Edition
Put Your Records On - Corinne Bailey Rae
Here Comes the Sun - Nina Simone
Imagine - John Lennon
Believe - Josh Groban
You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet - Bachman-Turner Overdrive
Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now - McFadden & Whitehead
Ray of Light - Madonna
With a Little Luck (DJ Edit) - Paul McCartney & Wings
I'm Into Something Good - Herman's Hermits
Happy Together - The Turtles
Every 1's a Winner - Hot Chocolate
Better Together - Jack Johnson
I Just Want to Celebrate - Rare Earth
Shiny Happy People - R.E.M.
For Once in My Life - Stevie Wonder
I'm Still Standing - Elton John
Forever Young - Rod Stewart
When You Believe - Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston
Peace Train - Cat Stevens
Everyday - Dave Matthews Band
The Best - Tina Turner
Praise You - Fatboy Slim
O-O-H Child - The Five Stairsteps
Magic - Pilot
Sing - Carpenters
Don't Stop Me Now - Queen
Better Things - The Kinks
It's Getting Better (Single) - Cass Elliot
All You Need Is Love - Nada Surf
Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah - Louis Armstrong
Oh, What a Beautiful Morning - Ray Charles & The Count Basie Orchestra
Everything - Lifehouse
Fame - Irene Cara
Come On Get Happy - The Partridge Family
Do Wah Diddy Diddy - Manfred Mann
I'm Alright (From "Caddyshack") - Kenny Loggins
Sun Is Shining - Bob Marley & The Wailers
Finally Woken - Jem
Alive - P.O.D.
Better Now - Collective Soul
Don't Hold Back - The Alan Parsons Project
A Beautiful World - Tim Myers
Life Is Wonderful - Jason Mraz
What a Beautiful Day - Chris Cagle
Things Are Getting Better - N.E.R.D.
Positivity - Stevie Wonder
posted by moira at 1:50 PM on September 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

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