Thursday, March 3, 2022

Happiness Is


For the second year in a row Fremont, California has been named the Happiest City in America. Who gave them that right, and, for that matter, why are they hogging it? It just does not sit right with me that, at this very moment, there is a community of folks who are happier than we are in Columbia. We must put an end to this once and for all. 

A few things you should know: 

  • I maintain a healthy skepticism about of all these annual “Best of” ratings we see bandied about the internet each year. 
  • I don’t care one bit that Columbia came in second.
  • Happiness is subjective.
If you don’t believe me on that last item, may I suggest a thorough reading of the County Executive’s Facebook page. If Dr. Ball announces A Good Thing, there are sure to be those who immediately say, “No, it isn’t a good thing. And besides, you’re a jerk.” If he addresses A Bad Thing, those same folks chime in with a combination of: “That isn’t really happening,” “That isn’t really a bad thing,” or, “Of course that’s a terrible thing because it’s your fault. And besides you’re a jerk.”


Adam McCann, a financial writer on WalletHub, shares that:

For years, researchers have studied the science of happiness and found that its key ingredients include a positive mental state,healthy body, strong social connections, job satisfaction and financial well-being.

Some people in Columbia have legitimate reasons for not being as happy as they would like to be. I hope you understand that my spending a few moments making light of the Wallethub announcement in no way seeks to belittle anyone’s actual lived experience in the New American City. But, honestly, there seems to be another sort of subculture here made up of people who are bound and determined to be unhappy, no matter what. 

People like that even earn a mention in the Book of Matthew in the New Testament.

We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn. (Matthew 11:17 New International Version)

In an article on NewsNationNow about the WalletHub winners, the author acknowledges that the designation itself isn’t everything.

That said, the location of your home might not matter much in the way of happiness. As noted by consultants working with WalletHub itself, some folks may never be happy in one of America’s “happiest” cities, no matter how high it ranks: For instance, a nature-lover will never be as fulfilled in a bigger city, and vice versa.

In other words: you can’t please everyone.

I noticed that California is wildly over-represented in WalletHub’s Happiness listing. I’m thinking of suggesting that municipalities in the Golden State compete with one hand tied behind their back next year. Perhaps I shouldn’t complain. After all, Columbia went from eighth to second place in only one year. We have momentum on our side.

And, another thing. Columbia isn’t actually a city. I guess I should just be happy that we made the list at all.

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