Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Webster

Keeping the Faith - Choose To Be Happy

ronniemcbrayer300 bKENTUCKY (5/19/13) - There is something rotten in the state of Denmark.” That is a centuries old phrase from William Shakespeare’s masterpiece, “Hamlet.” Going back to your high school English class, you might remember that strange things were indeed going on in Hamlet’s world.

His father, the Danish king, had been murdered. His uncle was behind the conspiracy and had taken over the country. Ghosts and apparitions were visiting the castle. One of the characters finally states the obvious: “Something is fishy around here.” Denmark has smelled rotten ever since.

But in reality, Denmark doesn’t stink at all. It’s a wonderful place. In fact, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and the Scandinavian nations of Northern Europe are officially the happiest countries in the world. This seems so counterintuitive to me. No offense to the Scandinavians, but when I think of happy places, the cities of the Nordic north do not quickly come to mind. Nevertheless, the statistics don’t lie.

Every year the Legatum Institute in London publishes its annual Prosperity Index that gauges the happiness level of the world’s countries. Consistently, Denmark, Norway and the sister Scandinavian nations are at the top of the heap. On the other end of the scale, the countries of Haiti, Afghanistan, the Congo, and the Central African Republic have more than a stench to deal with. These countries are consistently at the bottom of the happiness list, reflecting terrible misery for their populations.

If you are curious, the United States is currently ranked 12th on the Prosperity Index. Not too bad, but we were much happier in the near past. We have been sliding downward for some time now. Our society as a whole is not as happy as it once was, and honestly I don’t think that comes as much of a surprise.

While this survey says a lot about societal happiness, it says hardly anything at all about personal happiness. You can be a healthy, wealthy, free and secure Norwegian and be absolutely miserable. You can be a Haitian child living half-starved on the streets of Port au Prince and be filled with wondrous joy.

You can be a comfortable, successful, suburban, mortgage-paying, SUV-driving husband of one and father of two and be wretchedly unhappy. You can be a poor immigrant, a single mother with four children living in squalor, scraping for every meal, and be as happy as a singing bird in a tree.

Happiness is affected by our environment. That much is true. Happiness is a product of our genetics (scientists say that an elongated 5HTT gene will make you happier on average than most). But ultimately, barring emotional or mental dysfunction, happiness is a choice we make. No, we don’t live in Scandinavia. We have no control over our chromosomal makeup. We can’t do anything about our age and very little to change our personal economics. There are simply some things we cannot change.

But, there are other things we can do something about. We can opt to live near our friends. We can decide to practice gratitude. We can do work we find fulfilling. We can opt out of the blame game, and quit holding God, life, circumstances, past lovers, ex-wives, former business partners, parents, and reality responsible for doing us in.

We can make choices that will lead us toward becoming happy, joyful people or we can make choices that will result in us becoming chronically unhappy people. Regardless, that choice belongs to each and every one of us.

It was Viktor Frankl, famed Jewish Holocaust survivor and brilliant Austrian psychiatrist, who best articulated the power of choice in personal happiness. Reflecting upon his time in the concentration camps he wrote, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”

If you want to be happy you don’t have to move to Northern Europe or wait for science to alter your genetics. But you do have to choose to be happy, and no one else can make that choice for you.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.


Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources.

© Copyright 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story by using one of the social media links below.

3/13 - 16
3/13 - 16
button coupons

Stock Report

1 DOW 18,030.21
+6.04 (0.03%)    
2 S&P 2,081.88
-0.29 (-0.01%)    
3 NASDAQ 4,773.47
+8.05 (0.17%)    
3/13 - 16
3/13 - 16
button classifieds

In Other News...

Five Year-Old Boy Kills Buck/Deer

SACRAMENTO, Ky. (12/25/14) — Ty Frizzel, five, son of DeAnna and Ken Frizzell of Sacramento, went along with Ken deer… Read More

Winter Birding and Eagle Viewing Opportunities Offered

GOLDEN POND, Ky. (12/24/14) — Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area offers the public eagle viewing… Read More
3/13 - 16

Most Read This Week

December 24, 2014 11015

Christmas Eve Bloody Brawl Erupts on Dulin Street

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Doreen Dennis
December 25, 2014 7118

Gift Returns Done Right

in General News For All Sites by SurfKY News
December 19, 2014 6203

Armstrong Mine to Layoff 39 by End of Day

in Top News For All Sites by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
December 19, 2014 5254

Dawson Springs Man Charged with Sexual Abuse of…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Detective Sean McCance
December 19, 2014 4726

Woman Flown to St. Mary's after Two-Car Collision

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Trooper Stu Recke
December 19, 2014 3951

Vehicle Fire Causes Traffic Back-Up on Pennyrile

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Doreen Dennis
December 23, 2014 3840

Couple's Alleged Dispute over Blanket Leads to…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department
December 19, 2014 3674

Vehicle Explodes into Flames on Pride Avenue

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Gwen Smith
December 23, 2014 3316

Alleged Theft at Walmart Sends Two to Jail

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department
December 22, 2014 3229

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - Dec. 22, 2014

in Hopkins News by Madisonville Police Department

Stories Trending Today

December 24, 2014 11015

Christmas Eve Bloody Brawl Erupts on Dulin Street

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Doreen Dennis
December 25, 2014 7118

Gift Returns Done Right

in General News For All Sites by SurfKY News
December 23, 2014 2842

Disturbance Results in Vehicle, Foot Pursuit,…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Officer Tyler Russell
December 25, 2014 2808

Arrests Made After Dulin Avenue Christmas Eve…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Officer C.P. Haynie
December 25, 2014 2702

Crime Stoppers Top Most Wanted - December 25, 2014

in Video by Crime Stoppers
December 23, 2014 2554

Hopkins County Grand Jury Indictments

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Karen McKnight
December 24, 2014 1654

KCC Hosts 'Gift of Life' Opportunity

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
December 24, 2014 1571

'Frozen' Plays to One Last Packed House at Living…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
December 24, 2014 1541

2014 Looking Back: World Saddened at Death of…

in Top News For All Sites by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
December 24, 2014 1477

Statewide Broadband Initiative Launched

in Top News For All Sites by Office of the Governor

SurfKY News Group, Inc.
Corporate Office & Studio
1125 Nebo Rd.  •  Madisonville, KY 42431
270.452.2727 (phone)
  •  270.452.2249 (fax)


Contact a member of our staff: www.surfky.com/contact
Copyright © 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc.  •  Terms of Use  •  Site Map

social fbsocial twsocial yt
social gpsocial flrsocial rss