Creating Our Own Happiness Wayne Coyne is singer and guitarist for The Flaming Lips, an indie-rock band he founded. Coyne believes happiness isn't a cosmic coincidence, but something we have the power to make within ourselves.

Creating Our Own Happiness

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Unidentified Man #1: I believe in figuring out my own way to confess.

Unidentified Woman #2: I believe in the power of numbers.

Unidentified Man #2: I believe in barbecue.

Unidentified Woman #3: Oh, I believe in friendliness.

Unidentified Man #3: I believe in mankind.

Unidentified Man #4: This I Believe.


Every Monday we have another installment of our series, This I Believe. And today, we'll hear from Wayne Coyne, the lead singer of the rock group, The Flaming Lips. They just won two Grammys. They're known for their spacey arrangements, bizarre lyrics and extravagant live shows, which can include bubbles, puppets and confetti. Coyne grew up in Oklahoma City, and he still lives there.

Here's our series curator, Jay Allison.

JAY ALLISON: Wayne Coyne told us that through his music, he wants, quote, "To make the room brighter." His belief has tied to that wish. It's a guiding principle he's held for a long time, but it only became clear to him one day, sitting in his car. Here is Wayne Coyne with his essay for This I Believe.

Mr. WAYNE COYNE (Lead Singer, The Flaming Lips): I believe we have the power to create our own happiness. I believe the real magic in the world is done by humans. And I believe normal life is extraordinary. I was sitting in my car at a stoplight intersection, listening to the radio. I was, I guess, lost in a moment, thinking how happy I was to be inside my nice, warm car. You see, it was cold and windy outside, and I thought, life is good.

Now, this was a long light. As I waited, I noticed two people huddled together at the bus stop. And to my eyes, they looked uncomfortable. They looked cold, and they looked poor. Their coats looked like they came from the thrift store. They weren't wearing stuff from the Gap. I knew because I'd been there.

And this couple seemed to be doing their best to keep warm. They were huddled together, and I thought to myself, oh, those poor people in that horrible wind. But then I saw their faces. And yes, they were huddling, but they were also laughing. They looked to be sharing a good joke. And suddenly, instead of pitying them, I envied them. I thought, huh, what's so funny?

They didn't seem to notice the wind, and they weren't worried about their clothes and they weren't looking at my car thinking, oh, I wish I had that. And you know how a single moment can feel like an hour? Well, in that moment, I realized I'd assumed this couple needed my pity. But they didn't.

I assumed things were all bad for them, but they weren't. And I understood we all have the power to make moments of happiness happen. Now, maybe that's easy for me to say. I feel lucky to have fans around the world, a house with a roof, and a wife who puts up with me. But I must say I felt this way even when I was working at Long John Silver's. I worked there for 11 years as a fry cook.

And when you work at a place that long, you see teenagers coming in on their first dates, and then they're married, and then they're bringing in their kids. You witness whole sections of people's lives. In the beginning, it seemed like a dead end job. But, you know, at least I had a job. And frankly, it was very easy.

After two weeks, I knew all I needed to know, and it freed my mind. The job allowed me to dream about what my life could become. The first year I worked there, we got robbed. I lay on the floor. I thought I was going to die. I didn't think I stood a chance. But everything turned out all right.

A lot of people look at life as a series of miserable tasks, but after that, I didn't. I believe this is something all of us can do. Try to be happy within the context of the life that we're actually living. Happiness is not a situation to be longed for, or a convergence of lucky happenstance. Through the power of our own minds, we can help ourselves. This I believe.

ALLEN: Wayne Coyne, with his essay for This I Believe.

(Soundbite of song, "Do You Realize")

THE FLAMING LIPS (Rock Band): (Singing) Do you (unintelligible)…

ALLEN: This is Coyne and The Flaming Lips from their album, "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots."

(Soundbite of song, "Do You Realize")

THE FLAMING LIPS: (Singing) Does happiness make you cry?

ALLEN: We welcome everyone to write for our series. Find out more and read all the essays at For This I Believe I'm Jay Allen.

(Soundbite of "Do You Realize")

THE FLAMING LIPS: (Singing) …that everyone you know someday will die.

INSKEEP: This I Believe continues next Monday on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News when we'll hear an essay from the New Hampshire listener who tells us that he believes in every man's potential for brutality.

(Soundbite of "Do You Realize")

THE FLAMING LIPS: (Singing) Let them now you realize…

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