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
3/13 - 16
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013
2/6/2014 - posted
3/13 - 16
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013
2/6/2014 - posted
3/13 - 16
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013
2/6/2014 - posted
3/13 - 16
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013

Most Read This Week

October 29, 2014 8762

UPDATE: Medical Examiner's Official Report…

in Local (Lakes) Top News by Dennis Thomas
October 24, 2014 7510

Central City Man Charged with Sexual Assault on…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Chris Cooper
October 27, 2014 6033

Earlington Woman Charged With Burglary for…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department
October 23, 2014 4451

Don Everly to be Part of Rock and Roll Hall of…

in Top News For All Sites by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
October 27, 2014 4312

Baptist Health Madisonville Performs Baptist…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Kristy Quinn
October 28, 2014 3946

UPDATE: 'Runner' Ran Home; Family Happy

in Hopkins News by Lisa Crook
October 29, 2014 3843

UPDATE: Two More Arrested for Meth at Area Motel

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Trooper Stu Recke
October 24, 2014 3823

Miners Turn Out in Madisonville for…

in Top News For All Sites by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
October 28, 2014 3298

UPDATE: Extended to Wednesday; Heaven's Gates and…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
October 27, 2014 3294

Woman Charged for Domestic Assault with Scissors,…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department

Stories Trending Today

October 29, 2014 8762

UPDATE: Medical Examiner's Official Report…

in Local (Lakes) Top News by Dennis Thomas
October 29, 2014 3843

UPDATE: Two More Arrested for Meth at Area Motel

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Trooper Stu Recke
October 29, 2014 2478

Hypodermic Needle Sticking Out of Jacket During…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department
October 29, 2014 2184

Pennyrile Gymnastic Team to Perform on 'America's…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
October 29, 2014 1908

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - Oct. 29, 2014

in Hopkins News by Madisonville Police Department
October 29, 2014 1827

Huge Crowds Visit Uncle Lee’s First Day of…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
October 30, 2014 1606

UPDATE: Missing Elderly Couple Found

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Chief William C. Crider
October 29, 2014 1549

Trespassing Complaint Ends with Shoplifting Arrest

in Hopkins News by Madisonville Police Department
October 29, 2014 1402

Central City Businessman Indicted by Grand Jury…

in Top News For All Sites by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
October 29, 2014 1305

Water Main Break Sends Stream Dozens of Feet in…

in Hopkins News by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director

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