“Hakuna Matata does not always mean no worries”

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The Lion King is hands down my favorite Disney movie and show despite what the title of this article might imply.

In fact, my father and I just saw it last week per my pleading that he HAD to experience what I insisted was the best performance since Lady Gaga’s first live concert.

Not going to lie, I was jumping up and down with excitement like all the five year olds in the front row when the animals marched down the aisles (apparently I’m 23 going on 3 years old).

After the performance, my ever so analytical and wise father brought something very interesting to my attention that I had never considered the other 10 times I saw the show.

Hakuna Matata, the ever so popular phrase with origins in this show, is kind of a big load of you know what. In a way, it doesn’t actually mean “no worries for the rest of your days” or at least for most of our days in this non animated, real world.

The majority of us don’t live in a jungle amongst friends named Timon and Pumba, eating bugs in blissful ignorance of our homework, exams, and other such daily duties. If you do, well, seems like you have it made, and “Hakuna Matata” may indeed be a great motto for your life.

For the rest of us though, “Hakuna Matata” is a copout which excuses laziness, fear of change, and worst of all, passivity.

To simply say “Hakuna Matata” or in more colloquial terms, “no worries,” when a problem comes your way is equivalent to saying, “ I am actually very worried but I am too scared/lazy/ambivalent/insert-other-negative-adjective-about-not-being-proactive to do anything about it.”

If you received an email from your professor stating that you were in danger of failing a class would you write back “Hakuna Matata”? I would hope not.

If you were told the cheese you were eating was 6 months old would you mumble out an “Hakuna Matata” between bites? Unless you wanted to enjoy a not so pleasant visit from the stomach bug, probably not.

If you found out the consumption of chocolate was going to be outlawed, would you shrug your shoulders and respond with an “Hakuna Matata”? No, no, no, no, definitely no.

Of course these are situations in which having some or many (especially in the case of chocolate) worries, as opposed to no worries, is the natural, obvious reaction.In other aspects of life though, it might seem the easy way out to assume an Hakuna Matata mindset.

Take for example, if you apply for a job and you are not offered the position. You could of course say “no worries” (which actually means you are quite worried and just don’t want to confront your concerns), and not do anything. OR, you could ask the employer for feedback and figure out how to make yourself a better candidate for similar opportunities in the future.

Consider also instances in which you are at odds with someone due to an argument or disagreement. You could brush it off with a nonchalant “no worries”, or you could make efforts to repair the relationship and probably be happier in the end as a result.

I MUST caveat this with the argument that worrying too much can be just as bad, if not worse, than not worrying at all. Sometimes I find myself needlessly mulling over little details that shouldn’t merit so much as a second thought.

I often try to predict the future before its happened, which can sometimes be useful so that I am prepared for the worst case scenario, but in most instances only causes me unneeded stress. I’ve improved greatly in my ability to quash these minute concerns before they create a domino effect of distress in my head.

However, this is a skill that only comes with practice as does the expertise of not saying “no worries” when yes, you actually should be a bit worried. So don’t aim to choose one side or the other, that of a complete worrywart or an absolutely oblivious bystander.

Instead, knowing when worrying too little can prevent you from proactively solving problems, and when worrying too much can you cost you precious energy better spent elsewhere, is the key to worrying just the right amount.

I don’t plan on writing a letter to Timon, Pumba, and Simba asking them to change the name of their song. And, no, I’m not going to overanalyze every other Disney show and its accompanying music (except maybe Frozen’s “Let it go” if I’m feeling particularly philosophical).

However, when applying the phrase to your own life, I am going to suggest you substitute Hakuna Matata with “ mizani “ which, according to Google translator, (wish I could tell you I spoke Swahili, but unfortunately I’m not that cool) is the Swahili word for balance.


photo courtesy of: http://www.quickmeme.com/img/d7/d75b720d588a41f437697837e7452abcbc2a66e8e98df65aded4b0c4b7ef4866.jpg

Lauren Warner