Is Happiness a Place?

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My brother lives in Paradise. Some of my friends live there too. Paradise these days boasts about 14,000 inhabitants. Plus a McDonald’s, a Dollar Store and even a swanky men’s clothing store. It’s found just outside of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.

Newfoundland is known for its upbeat sounding place names. There’s Happy Adventure, Tickle Cove, and the “Heart” hat-trick– Heart’s Delight, Heart’s Content, and Heart’s Desire. There’s even a Happy Valley (in Goose Bay of course).  But are they happy? Can happiness be defined by a place?

Does living in a happy sounding place make you any happier?

A Gallup Poll earlier this year found that Nigeria is the happiest place on earth. And here I thought Disney World held that title.  Maybe it’s because there are so many Nigerian princes willing to share their riches via email. But Nigeria’s happiness crown has more to do with the optimism of its people than with the names of its towns.

Happy NigeriaPhoto by Eduardo Bueno

Does geography play any part in happiness?

In his hilarious book The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World, NPR correspondent Eric Weiner explores that very question.  He travels to 10 of the supposedly happiest countries on the planet to sort out just what makes them so darn content.  His conclusion?  Well that all depends on your definition of happy.

One man’s thrill is another man’s torture.

My brother lives in a smaller town with fewer taxes. That makes him happy. It also has fewer pubs. That makes his girlfriend happy. I know that growing up in St. John’s we used to make fun of people from Paradise. That made me and my friends happy. But kids are usually pretty happy to begin with. I don’t recall meeting too many depressed 10-year olds. It’s when we get older that the bigger questions get in the way.

Happiness is double-edged sword.

And sometimes, you use that sword to commit hari-kari.  A separate study earlier this year found the happiest states in America actually have the highest suicide rates.  The reason?  Seeing all those happy people around you makes you want to shoot yourself. Seriously. If you’re miserable however, and surrounded by miserable people, then you don’t feel so bad.  Misery does indeed love company.

Check out the video for the full story.

Study Shows Happy States Have High Suicide Rates

Have you been to a place with a happy sounding place name?  Did the residents seem suspiciously happy to you?  My own personal happiness right now depends on your comments.

That wobbly chair and length of rope in the corner of the room just winked at me.  No pressure. Smile

I am a travel blogger and freelance travel writer. I left behind my cubicle-shaped cell to see the world. Now I inspire others to shake the shackles and escape through travel. This is my blog.

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