Friday, July 25, 2014

Letting the Good Times Roll

It's official: according to researchers at Harvard and British Columbia, the five happiest cities in the United States are all in Louisiana. They are, in order: Lafayette, Houma, Shreveport, Baton Rouge, and Alexandria. A sixth Louisiana city, Lake Charles, made it into the top ten. (New Orleans, I'm afraid, wasn't very high up on the list).

So why is a place bedeviled by deadly hurricanes and oil spills and poverty so happy? Who knows. But I suspect it has something to do with strong family ties and deep roots, a devotion to good eating and good music, a love of outdoor activities and eating and festivals and eating and... You get the idea.
The unhappiest city in the country was identified as New York City, followed by St. Joseph, Missouri and South Bend, Indiana. Anyone know why?


paz said...

Researchers failed to understand that New Yorkers are only happy when they are complaining. That makes them one of the happiest people on earth LOL

More seriously, while happiness is in the eye of the beholder, perhaps we can find answers in the dramatic rise in inequality in the city. From hyper-segregated schools to housing built for foreign millionaires who visit it only occasionally, many New York City residents feel alienated from their own city.

cs harris said...

Paz, yes, in-your-face inequality is always a source of anger and unhappiness. I also found the way they "adjusted" for various things suspect; there has to be a reason six of the ten ended up in Louisiana. I do think people down here are unusually happy, although a big part of it may be as simple as not needing to hassle with commutes or traffic jams or overcrowding (although since Katrina, Baton Rouge has traffic issues). Also, they do tend to be more interested in having fun and less interested in making money. In that last sense they remind me of Australia when I was there, although I'm told things have changed.

Charles Gramlich said...

Interesting. I wouldn't have thought it.

Suzanne said...

Candy, things haven't changed that much here in Australia. Of course there are people who measure happiness and success in terms of money and rank. But there are even more people who chose lifestyle over money. Me being one of them. My "me time" is far too important to me and I won't give up my lifestyle to an all consuming job simply for more money.

Suzanne said...

I have been thinking some more about this and I am not surprised by the results at all. People from all over the world move to New York to make it big. Naturally it isn't possible for all of them to do so, so you have a lot of dissatisfied people left behind. On the other hand, nobody in their right mind would move to Louisiana to make it big on a world scale. You move there to enjoy the history, culture, music, food etc. So I imagine that Louisiana is full of people who have got just what they wanted out of life and are therefore happy.

Anonymous said...

c- wow I have got to get my hands on that research. While I grew up on Long Island and currently live in Hoboken NJ. I have spent the last 33 years working in NYC. Suffice to say I'm here a lot. But the funny thing is I basically agree with it all. I hope to be heading for the Greenville SC area in the next 3 years. (My sister is there) I'm planning for rocking chair on the porch time. As far as the big apple goes I would say the unhappiness is based on the amount of people in a small space, the expense to live here, the filth, the noise, the traffic, the tourists and the lack of space - did I mention that yet?? Everyone is on top of each other here. When I go home on Friday I never want to go back in. When I was younger I didn't feel this way. The city was so exciting, museums, Broadway plays, restaurants, concerts, sporting events. It was like the center of the universe - Non stop fun. A lot has changed for me in 33 years. And so has the city. On my way to work I have to cross town - West Side to East Side. By the time I get to Madison Ave I have seen nothing but unhappy faces most of the way. I wish I could say it wasn't true. And yet people still want to be here. Like the song - If you can make it here you can make it anywhere. Maybe people have something to prove. I don't really understand it myself but who am I to talk, its taken me this long to figure it out that time to leave. Best Ali

cs harris said...

Charles, it is strange.

Suzanne, that's good to know. I always thought it was a good thing I moved here from Australia rather than someplace like NY; the culture shock was bad enough as it was.

Ali, I think you're right--the young can take it better, although I've always had trouble with crowds. As much as I loved living in Paris, I found that I needed to schedule regular "green time"--hours sitting in a park--or I'd go crazy.

Susan J. said...

I would imagine living in any large city would involve a lot of stress. I've lived in London and now rural Lincolnshire and there is no contest for me, it's Lincolnshire any time. People have time for you and have a warmth about them. I suspect this would be true in most countries. New Yorkers have a great sense of humour though, I love the New York based comedies, particularly Woody Allen's films.

cs harris said...

Susan, yes, the older I get, the more appealing a nice friendly village becomes.

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