According to a recent survey by researcher and policy advisor Simon Anholt (Anholt-GfK Roper City Brands Index), the happiest people live in Rio de Janeiro. Of course, they are happy! They have Carnaval, the beach, and those attractive Brazilians!
The second happiest place in the world is Sydney, Australia, followed by Barcelona, Spain.
By now, Dear Reader, you have picked up on the pattern. These are all places where we imagine folks to happy! Don’t Australians spend every evening “throwing some shrimp on the barbie”? And surely, the city with one of the best soccer teams in the world must be overjoyed!
As it turns out, the study was all about impressions. "This is a survey of perception, not a survey of reality," the designer of the study admits (http://www.forbes.com/2009/09/02/worlds-happiest-cities-lifestyle-cities.html).
All men seek happiness, because God has placed this natural desire in our hearts. But what counts as “happiness” is difficult to identify... and even more difficult to attain. We tend to think that happiness is “well-being”—and our well-being will surely be increased if we live in a place with balmy weather, beautiful people, and fun activities. But as the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “true happiness is not found in riches or well-being, in human fame or power, or in any human achievement…but in God alone” (No. 1723).
The Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:1-12) proposes an alternative perspective on happiness. Jesus tells us that the poor in spirit, the meek, the pure of heart, the merciful, and the peacemakers will find true happiness. These attitudes will ultimately lead us to Christ, and to true and lasting peace, joy, and happiness.
It is tempting to think we will be happy, if only…if only I had a better job, more friends, better health, more security, or lived in a more pleasant environment. But for now, I think I will work on my attitude.