Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Happiest Place in the U.S.A.

I am often amazed how much people in Japan work and how much they have and yet how unhappy so many people are. I found this piece by ABC News and thought I'd type it out, both for you and for my Sunday English class:

"A hard-hit town in Michigan has just been ranked by the Gallop poll as one of the happiest places in the whole U.S.A.

When most of think of happy we think of this (beautiful beaches). So how on earth can this be one of the top happiest places in America? Horrible blizzards, horrible unemployment – sixteen percent!

'If a small community, located in a state with the worst economy can feel good about itself, it seems to me that we’ve got hope as a country.'

Well arrive and town and ask these 35,000 people while they are so happy. The first answer is religion that reaches out. In fact, Holland is known as the city of churches, 170 places of worship, offering practical help and paying it forward.

'You know, you need gas for the week. I’ve heard of several churches that will give you gas cards. If people are out of work, we try to help them in some way. If we’re their neighbors we’ll try to steer something their way.'

In Holland there 100 volunteer groups fanning out through the city – more than cities twice their size. And despite its unemployment, this region was recently named one of the most generous regions in the U.S.

Another word we kept hearing: family. Families that live near each other, have dinner together at night. By the way, the crime rate is one half of the nation’s. So think of this as city, still living in a Norman Rockwell world. Sometimes it’s just nice to remember that solutions do not come from the maze in Washington, but the simple things we know about caring for the neighbor next door.

And the Dutch, who founded Holland (surprise, surprise) have a word for that happy feeling you get when you’re close to each other. It’s called “hezelich”. Be gentle with me on that. But have a “hezelich” night and hope to see you again tomorrow." (2/17/2010)

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