Choir Notes

From Music and the Spoken Word
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell • Program 4355

The Gallup organization recently released a poll whose purpose was to measure positive emotions worldwide. A thousand people in more than a hundred countries were contacted and asked about their previous day. How often had they smiled or laughed? Did they feel respected? Did they learn or accomplish something interesting? According to the survey, the happiest people on earth live in Panama and Paraguay, which happen to rank 90th and 101st in the world in terms of wealth. In fact, none of the top 10 happiest countries would be considered wealthy by most measures.1
Admittedly, no survey can accurately measure true happiness, but these results ring true. While wealth, ease, and other external circumstances may influence our happiness, they do not control it. Happiness, it seems, comes from something deep inside us that we choose to nurture. We determine our happiness. Otherwise, how do we explain why one person "can smile or find balance and perspective amid tragedy and despair, [while] someone else can be surrounded by all the good things of the world and yet wallow in gloom”?2
A young man who recently returned from foreign service in a poor country noted that although the people he met there had very little, they were remarkably happy. And he found that he was happy too while purposefully engaged in helping them. We’ve all had enough similar experiences to know that selflessly serving others deepens our love and increases our sense of fulfillment, that treating others with kindness and enjoying life’s simplicities make us happy. Then why do we waste energy seeking happiness in places we know it isn’t found? We know where to find it.
That’s a comforting thought. It means we can choose to be quite happy even if our circumstances are not ideal. It means that true happiness is within reach for all of us.
1 John Clifton, "Latin Americans Most Positive in the World,” Gallup World, Dec. 19, 2012, http://www.gallup.com/poll/159254/latin-americans-positive-world.aspx.
2 Jay Evensen, "Measuring Happiness Is a Futile Exercise,” Deseret News, Jan. 27, 2013, http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765620929/Measuring-happiness-is-a-futile-exercise.html.

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