An article was released a couple of days ago that ranked all of the cities in Canada on a Happiness Scale. Barrie was ranked as the 10th unhappiest city in the country. We are slightly happier than the folks in Saint John New Brunswick, but not quite as happy as the citizens of Brantford, Ontario. I have no idea of the criteria used in the study. If one of the categories was per capita potholes, then I get why we are scraping the bottom, but otherwise I don’t get it. Barrie has a lot going for it; a great waterfront, abundant trails for walking and biking, a thriving downtown, and more Starbucks than you shake a latte at. What more could you expect from a city?
It does beg the question “what makes for happiness?”
I’m not sure if I can answer that in a short blog (not sure I could answer it in a long sermon either), but I always take note of the fact that the Bible doesn’t talk about happiness. Nowhere in the Bible will you find a recipe for happiness. The Bible can tell you how to find peace, contentment, faith, purpose, but not happiness. That really shouldn’t surprise us as I can’t imagine there was much to be happy about in biblical times. Unless you were the Emperor or those who worked for him, I would imagine life was a tough slog, little more than a daily challenge to survive. Your goal was to live to be 35 so the neighbourhood kids could point at you and say, “look at that old geezer”.
Or, maybe the Bible doesn’t mention it was because happiness was never a goal in days yonder. In fact, I’m not sure outside of the last 100 years, happiness was ever a goal of any civilization. The need for happiness is a modern phenomenon. Somewhere over the past century or so, happiness became a product, something to be achieved or attained alongside the other luxuries of living in modern times.
Buddha was purported to have said, “there is no path to happiness, happiness is the path.” Buddha recognized that happiness isn’t a product, a destination or a goal, but rather it’s a state of mind. Abraham Lincoln was on a similar track when he said, “people are just about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” I think they are both right, but I would go even one step further. I have always believed that happiness is not a product, but rather it is a byproduct, a byproduct of living a purposeful life. When we find something in life that we love to do, something that fills our days with purpose and pleasure (be it sailing a boat, making a quilt, volunteering at the hospital, planting and harvesting a garden, etc.) happiness sneaks up on us, taps us on the shoulder and says, “HEY!”.
Our goal therefore should be to seek out not what makes us happy, but what gives us purpose, and then happiness will find us. It’s what they call a win/win!!
Do you want to know what the happiest city in Canada is? According to this study it’s Caledon, Ontario. Have you ever been Caledon? It’s nice, but does it classify as a city? Oh well, I’m going to put this list aside and just enjoy my time of living in good ole unhappy Barrie.