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Hakuna Matata: What Does It Actually Mean And How You Can Live the Hakuna Matata Life

hakuna matata

Hakuna Matata!
What a wonderful phrase
Hakuna Matata!
It means no worries
For the rest of your days
It’s our problem-free philosophy
Hakuna Matata!

I need to get this done by today. I have that report to submit this morning. I wish I had more time to finish the paper. I don’t know how I will pay those bills this month. Does my wife have a work spouse? I never find any time for myself. Am I getting fat? I don’t know what more to do, nothing ever goes my way.

Relax! Breathe! And say Hakuna Matata! Every time you start worrying about a problem, just tell yourself…Hakuna Matata.

The very first thing we think about when we hear the words Hakuna Matata is the iconic Disney animated movie ‘The Lion King’ (you may even think of the recent live-action one if you want). I am sure you can’t even say the phrase without signing the song inside your mind at least once. That’s the impact of Hakuna Matata.

Hakuna Matata: What Does It Actually Mean And How You Can Live the Hakuna Matata Life

A Simple Message With A Deeper Meaning

Hakuna Matata! It’s a philosophy that Timon and Pumbaa live by. They enjoy their lives even though they eat insects and have no one else except each other. They live freely in the forest and do whatever their heart desires. Hakuna Matata means no worries. This is what they teach Simba to pick him up and help him to discover himself. Although the message behind the song may appear as a funny, feel-good piece, when you understand what Hakuna Matata really means, it can help you transform your life.

The core message of the phrase is to live your life without any worries and believe that everything will be alright. It’s a problem-free, philosophy. Stressing about the problems in life will not make them go away nor will it make you any happier or productive. We need to understand that bad things happen in life and there’s nothing we can really do about it. However, this message can be easily misunderstood.

So let us take a closer look at what Hakuna Matata really means and how you can use this philosophy to live a better life starting today!

Related: When Your Anxiety Is Getting The Best Of You, Read This

Hakuna Matata! But What Does It Actually Mean?

Hakuna Matata is a Swahili phrase that translates to “there are no troubles”. Hakuna means “there is not here,” and Matata means “troubles or problems”. The Disney animated movie The Lion King translated the phrase to “no worries”, which is more or less similar to the actual meaning. The philosophy can also be roughly translated as “all is well” or “everything is okay.”

Irrespective of what literal meaning you derive from the original East African Swahili phrase, it encourages us to stop worrying unnecessarily and trust that everything will be alright.

What Hakuna Matata DOESN’T Mean

Understanding what Hakuna Matata really means is not the same as understanding what it doesn’t mean. It can mean different things to different people and this is where the beauty of the phrase can be misinterpreted. When you don’t recognize the true essence of Hakuna Matata, it can lead to some serious negative consequences.

Living the Hakuna Matata life does not mean following a philosophy of unwillingness to do anything. All of us have problems in life. We are all worried and stressed about something or the other. We think more than we actually do. And sometimes all this stress can adversely affect our life choices and our health. This is where the philosophy of “no worries” comes in.

However, having “no worries” does not necessarily mean you will do whatever you feel like without worrying about the consequences. We all want to live a happy fulfilling life full of adventure and excitement. We want to take risks, make mistakes, have fun, and experience life as it is. We want to be happy. We want to relax. Hakuna Matata can mean all of that as long as you take responsibility for your actions.

Hakuna Matata: What Does It Actually Mean And How You Can Live the Hakuna Matata Life

Hakuna Matata Is Not Escapism

Consider these lines from The Lion King:

Nala: “Why didn’t you come back to Pride Rock?”
Simba: “Well, I just needed to…get out on my own. Live my own life. And I did. And it’s great.”
Nala: “We really needed you at home.”
Simba: “No. It doesn’t matter. Hakuna Matata.”
Nala: “What?”
Simba: “Hakuna Matata. It’s something I learned out here. Look, sometimes bad things happen…And there’s nothing you can do about it. So why worry?”
Nala: “Because it’s your responsibility!”

I believe this scene captures the true essence of what Hakuna Matata really means. The phrase is NOT life advice on how to escape responsibilities. The philosophy should be used sparingly to help you face certain challenges and focus on problem-solving instead of worrying.

Related: How To Take More Personal Responsibility and Stop Making Excuses

Hakuna Matata Is A Way To Pick Ourselves Up

In the Disney movie, Timon and Pumbaa use the Hakuna Matata philosophy to help Simba cope with heartbreak and find the strength to deal with his current situation after he lost his father, his home and almost everything he had. Hakuna Matata showed him a way to stand back up. But it should only be used in the right moments and in the right doses.

Simba used Hakuna Matata as a way to escape his pain until he met Nala as an adult. He hid himself from all his responsibilities as the future king and used Hakuna Matata as an escape. He refused to face his fears and take responsibility to help his loved ones. Granted, Simba was scared. But that’s no reason for you to look away from your responsibilities. However, after Rafiki knocks some sense into Simba, he decides to go back.

Simba: “Going back means I’ll have” to face my past. I’ve been running from it for so long.”

When Simba returns to Pride Rock, he faced terrifying truths from his past, literally faced his fears, and took responsibility as the one true king. I believe this is the best way to use the Hakuna Matata philosophy in your life.

We are all afraid of doing certain things that often mean the most to us. The value that specific thing holds in our hearts and lives, makes us scared…afraid that if we fail we might not be able to live with ourselves. Real-life may not be as dramatic as an animated movie about lions, hyenas, a meerkat, and a warthog. But you get the point.

Simba shows us exactly how believing in Hakuna Matata can help us to pick ourselves up when we are down without losing sight of our responsibilities. After all, we are all kings and queens in our own stories. Right?

How You Can Use Hakuna Matata…The RIGHT Way

Worry can keep us awake at night and slowly eat away our passion for life. Fear and anxiety about the uncertain can make us feel physically and emotionally exhausted. Worrying about uncertainty can often come to us automatically and quickly become a habit before we know it. However, just like most other bad habits, the habit of worrying can be changed.

Here are 5 ways you can adopt the Hakuna Matata philosophy in your life to stop worrying and living life happily and responsibly:

1. What you focus on will expand

Our mind is like a camera, we see and capture only what we focus on.

When your mind focuses on problems, you will find new and unique problems that don’t even exist. But when you start focusing on the positive aspects of your life, you will see new opportunities popping out from unexpected places. However, it does not mean you will ignore your problems. It only means that you shift your focus to finding a solution to your problems instead of just worrying about them.

This will not happen in a day. Shifting your mindset takes time but with determination and practice, you will soon start realizing what Hakuna Matata really means and how you can be more positive.

Related: Buddhism Reveals The Ultimate Mindset To Achieve Your Goals

2. Don’t avoid risks cause you’re afraid to fail

The fear of failure inside our minds is often greater than the actual probability of failure in reality. We avoid taking risks in the short term so that we don’t have to experience pain and suffering. However, when you look at the long-term gains, you will realize that taking risks and being courageous usually pay off.

Mufasa: “I’m only brave when I have to be. Being brave doesn’t mean you go looking for trouble.”

Face your fears. What is the worst thing that can happen right now? Why are you so worried about the worst-case scenario? Why do you believe you can’t overcome what comes your way? Why do you even think that you will fail?

Think about what this can mean 5 years from now. Life is not about just paying bills. Stop worrying. Hakuna Matata. Simba took the risk of failing when he went back to Pride Rock and faced Scar. We all know what happened. He became the rightful king. Go ahead and claim your throne.

Hakuna Matata: What Does It Actually Mean And How You Can Live the Hakuna Matata Life

3. Your self-worth depends on your own opinions, not others’

Mufasa: “Remember who you are.”

Simba lost all his confidence due the tragic events in his childhood. Scar broke Simba’s confidence. He stopped believing in himself. You will find bullies like Scar everywhere you go, be it your social or professional group. But when you start believing all the negativity they throw at you, that’s when the real problem begins.

Understand this. Your self-worth does not and never will depend on what others think about you. They are not you. They have not lived your life. They have not fought your battles.

Your importance in this world will not diminish simply because someone thinks any less of you, irrespective of how close that person is to you. Ignore these bullies and tell yourself Hakuna Matata. As long as you are proud of yourself and take all the responsibilities you need to, you’re okay. This is what Hakuna Matata really means.

4. Nothing worth having comes easy

If it was easy, everyone would do it. But they don’t. This is what separates the average from the great. Today, the entire idea of instant gratification is one of the biggest evils in our society. We want to have it all and we want it NOW. But we never ask ourselves what have we done to deserve this? Have we earned it?

Simba had the birthright to become the next great king of Pride Rock until things went haywire. This is how it is in real life too. Simba had to fight, not only to claim his position as the king, but he had to fight to survive.

So start by having patience. It will come to you when it’s the right time. Worrying about it will not make the process any faster or easier. You need to stay focused and keep striving for what you want. Instead of wasting your time worrying and stressing about when you will get what you deserve, pursue your dreams with even more determination. Work harder. Grind longer.

When you shift your mindset and focus on the long term effects, you will start living a lot happier and worrying a lot less. Just look at Timon and Pumbaa. They do what they need to do and then they chill out. And everything worked out just fine for them.

Related: 7 Tips To Stop You From Worrying About Things You Can’t Control

5. Never say never

Zira: “If you will not fight, then you will die as well.”

I am a firm believer of never giving up. I have based my entire life on this sole belief. And although I have failed a significant number of times in life, I am a happy and satisfied man. Just like Simba. He could have easily given up. He could have lived in his fantasies with a distorted belief of Hakuna Matata. But he didn’t give up. Simba fought for his family, for himself and for his father.

When you think about giving up, a lot of thoughts rush through your mind as you try to figure out all the possible outcomes that may occur if you face your fears. You also worry about how you might fail and how that will affect you. But when you are focused on fighting and not giving up, the only thing going on in your mind is how hard you are going to fight. It is based on your actions. You fail and you learn every time. By stressing over how something might be very challenging for you, you only set yourself up for failure.

When you give up, you have already failed…willingly.

Make yourself to stop worrying about outcomes you can’t control and simply focus on the process. The philosophy of Hakuna Matata might not solve all the problems in your life, but it will make you stronger and make life easier for you.

Hakuna Matata: What Does It Actually Mean And How You Can Live the Hakuna Matata Life

Hakuna Matata Is A Problem-Free Philosophy

Now that you know what Hakuna Matata really means, you can start adopting this philosophy in your own life, the way it is supposed to be. Hakuna Matata is not about escaping or shirking responsibilities. It is about accepting what is and finding a way to create a better life for yourself. So let go of your past and start living in the moment. Forget how life has wronged you and focus on what you have right now that can help you make a better future.

Rafiki: “Oh yes, the past can hurt. But from the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it.”

Put on your optimistic glasses and start looking at life from a new perspective. Optimism is contagious as it makes you feel good by releasing endorphins. Take a happiness break when you are too anxious or worried. Do what you like. Enjoy this moment. Breathe and slow down your mind for a moment. Life is about living and living it passionately.

Related: 5 Ways To Shift Your Mindset Towards More Optimism

Timon: “Repeat after me. Hakuna Matata.”

Believe in Hakuna Matata. Always.


The 'No Worries' Philosophy: What Hakuna Matata Really Means
The 'No Worries' Philosophy: What Hakuna Matata Really Means
hakuna matata pin

Theo Harrison

Hey there! I am just someone trying to find my way through life. I am a reader, writer, traveler, fighter, philosopher, artist and all around nice guy. I am outdoor person but heavily into technology, science, psychology, spiritualism, Buddhism, martial arts and horror films. I believe in positive action more than positive thinking.View Author posts

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