Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Webster
Davis Motor Sales banner ad

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.

Posted on 2/2/14
2/6/2014 - posted
button coupons
2/6/2014 - posted
2/6/2014 - posted
button classifieds

In Other News...

Farm City Breakfast Honors Farming Legacy

HOPKINS COUNTY, Ky. (11/26/14) – More than 250 folks lined-up to share in the 40th Annual Farm City Breakfast hosted by… Read More

Baptist Health Ebola Ready

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (11/27/14) — Infection Control coordinator Tammy Merrill presented Ebola preparedness at Baptist… Read More
2/6/2014 - posted

Most Read This Week

November 22, 2014 5477

One Injured in Two Vehicle Collision in Greenville

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Miria Thomas
November 24, 2014 3672

Two Charged for Possession of Meth After…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by MCSO/PIO Alex Piper
November 21, 2014 3589

Kentucky Employers to Save About $112 million

in General News For All Sites by Cathy Lindsey
November 25, 2014 2867

Call for Help Results in Arrest for Possession of…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department
November 25, 2014 2779

Madisonville Man Charged for Selling Cocaine

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department
November 22, 2014 2762

Greenville Representatives Taking Part in Austin,…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
November 21, 2014 2582

KSP Announces 'Cram the Cruiser' to Feed the…

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Stu Recke
November 22, 2014 2574

SAR Planning 'Triple' Revolutionary War Patriot…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Geoff Baggett
November 24, 2014 2560

Hopkins County Sheriff's Reports Released

in Hopkins News by Sheila Hopper
November 24, 2014 2504

Madisonville Police Charge Woman with Terroristic…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department

Stories Trending Today

November 26, 2014 1929

Greene Leaf Boutique Offers Style for Less

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
November 26, 2014 1501

Madisonville Man Charged with Selling Cocaine

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Lt. William W. Poe
November 27, 2014 1482

Sons of American Revolution Hold Triple Grave…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Geoff Baggett
November 27, 2014 1402

Caretender's Staff Cares About Feeding Needy…

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News
November 26, 2014 1391

Don't Let Your Thanksgiving Go Up in Smoke

in General News For All Sites by Kip Diggs
November 27, 2014 1361

MCTI Presents 'The Santaland Diaries'

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
November 26, 2014 1310

Thanksgiving is Top Day for Cooking Fires

in Top News For All Sites by Ricki Gardenhire
November 27, 2014 1300

MSA Thanksgiving Food Box Drive

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Joyce Riggs
November 26, 2014 1172

Gift Exchange Dos and Don'ts

in General News For All Sites by SurfKY News
November 26, 2014 1037

Ready Your Home for Holiday Guests

in General News For All Sites by SurfKY News

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