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Happiness Not Just for High Achievers

Kids Count

Such is a line from a popular song that refrains with “there is life at both ends of that red dirt road.”

The song seems to be saying that people from all walks of life can be and are happy, without undo regard for which end of the road they are on. Having lots of money, a prestigious address or job does not guarantee greater happiness.

A researcher at Notre Dame School of Business seems to agree with the import of the song. Professor Timothy Judge found that, “despite the many accomplishments of ambitious people, they aren’t significantly happier than their more laid back peers.”

The bad news from the research is that more ambitious people tend to live shorter lives. The study tracked ambition, achievement and indicators of health and happiness.

The research consulted these factors at key times during childhood, adulthood and beyond. Many of the subjects were graduates from Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Stamford and other prestigious schools. The study revealed that, in the end, ambition had only a slight effect on happiness and did not translate into a happier or healthier life.

Recently, an international consortium met to discuss happiness rankings by country. The research was conducted between 2005 and 2011. Denmark was ranked number one for happiness followed by Finland, Norway, Netherlands and Canada. The United States ranked eleventh in happiness as a country and Togo, a sub- Saharan country on the African Continent was the unhappiest country.

States were also ranked. Hawaii was ranked number one followed by North Dakota, Minnesota, Utah and Alaska. New York was the 34th happiest state, Vermont was the 12th happiest state and West Virginia was the unhappiest state in the Union.

As adults, we pressure our children to be one of those people who are good at everything and we frantically involve them in as many things as is possible. Children often have schedules that are demanding or even daunting. Weekends no longer belong to families; the hectic schedule of events is now extended into the weekend.

Reach the writer at hurlburt@wildblue.net.

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