The Happiness Quotient

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Mostly Musings / Neighbors / Woodstock

I was feeling happy that morning as I began another day of retirement. And why not?

I had slept until after 8, with no alarm clock or cat waking me up. Sunshine was streaming in my windows. Angie and Shadow kept me company, until they left for their own happy places in the sunroom.

I had finished breakfast and was reading my print copy of the Chicago Tribune while I sipped a second mug of Dark Magic coffee. Though I may not have been fully conscious of my happiness, I truly was. Life was very, very good.

Then, a few pages into the paper, a headline caught my eye: Sadly, U.S. happiness ranking falls, now 14th. How could that be? It ran jarringly counter to my mood.

So I read the article. Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press was reporting on the latest World Happiness Report. It ranks the countries of the world on their overall happiness, based on a combination of economic, health, and polling data. Our country, in fact, had slipped from 13th to 14th place in a year’s time.

So which are the happiest countries on Earth? This year Norway tops the list, followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, and Finland. Isn’t it interesting that all five are in the same general region of the world? As Borenstein points out, it takes more than just money to be happy. I would add that it also takes more than climate or scenery. But what does it take?

Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, said, “What works in the Nordic countries is a sense of community and understanding in the common good.”

a sense of community and understanding in the common good

I read those words twice because they struck a chord with me. They define a key element of the atmosphere here at Maples at the Sonatas. Most of the 125 or so of us do share a sense of community and an understanding of our common good. At least, in my experiences we do.

Let’s take it a step farther, to our city of Woodstock, which numbers 25,000 residents. I believe a similar sense of community and concern for the common good exist there too, though perhaps in a slightly diluted form.

Enough musing. I finished reading the newspaper and went on with the rest of my day. And it was a good day, a happy day. Of course it was. I am surrounded by an abundance of one of the key elements of happiness.

I hope you are too.


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