Publisher’s Points to Ponder: What Makes a Happy Town?
A few years ago, Oprah did a segment about the happiest towns in America. I don’t remember all the details about the show, but I remembered enough to make me wonder about the makings of a happy town.
Happiness is the quality or state of being happy. If someone is happy, he or she is delighted, glad or content. That said, is happiness measurable? Measuring happiness may be difficult since it is subjective and based on multiple influential factors. However, everyone from scientists to philosophers attempt to measure happiness.
I am fascinated by the researchers at the Vancouver School of Economics who conducted a study that surveyed people with one question: How satisfied are you with your life? This antiquated study narrowed the results to the top five cities that contained the happiest people. The top three cities on the list are located in Louisiana and includes Lafayette, Shreveport and Baton Rouge. A few contributing factors included the low cost of living and the average temperature of 67 degrees.
The Vancouver study also revealed that the unhappiest people resided in New York, which shocked me because, as a Louisiana girl, one of my happiest moments was spent in New York. If I keep it real, I would agree that one week in a city is not enough time to measure happiness. The researchers determined that the factors that led to unhappiness were the massive amount of people, the high cost of living, astronomical rent prices, fewer homeownership opportunities and the cold weather.
A recent survey about happiness returned equally interesting results. Dan Buettner, the author of the Blue Zones of Happiness, listed 25 of the happiest cities in the U.S. Boulder, Colorado was at the top of the list and Austin, Texas was at the bottom of the list. What happened to the Louisiana cities?
Buettner’s research quantified happiness by breaking it into three categories: purpose, relationships and achievements. Considering these categories, why wasn’t Olney listed as one of the happiest towns in America? Olney factors: No traffic, fresh air, beautiful seasons, low population, bike-friendly roads, and of course the community activities which promote relationship-building.
In conclusion, the premise of Buettner’s analysis is relationships. Both purpose and achievement involve a relationship on some level. It does not matter where you live if you have strong relationships you can be happy. Happy people make a happy town.