Dr. Val Farmer
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Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

Readers Share Ideas On Happiness

July 13, 1998

In February, readers of this column filled out a survey about their quality of life and sense of satisfaction. I received more than 450 responses to the survey. The complete results of the survey will be published later this summer or in the fall.

I received many notes of appreciation and encouragement about the column. With just a few exceptions, the comments were positive and personally rewarding. Thank you for taking the time to fill out the survey and adding your thoughts. Your "thank you's" are a source of motivation to continue my efforts to keep the column a part of your lives.

I appreciated the personal comments from readers about what they felt were significant factors for their own happiness and their advice on how to be happy. Here are some pearls of wisdom gleaned from the survey.

On attitude and expectations.

"Life is too short not to enjoy it to the fullest."

"People more and more today equate success with money and things and not the values of living an honest and ethical life. We live in the richest nation in the world but are the world's poorest when it comes to appreciating ourselves for who we are and not what we own."

"I love a quote by Abraham Lincoln, ' A body is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be." Of course, there are terrible situations people live in and with no way to make it better. But I see a lot of people who are missing life by looking over the fence. How sad!"

"Life is good! But very fragile."

"I think we as people spend too much time comparing ourselves (what we have or don't have) to others. I learned to be satisfied with what I am and have. I always try to respond in a positive way to others.

Faith in God, the importance of religion and service to others.

"I credit my faith in God for my well-being."

"It is time that people of this USA get back to Christian faith that our country was founded on."

"We need less selfishness and more love for our neighbors. This will bring satisfaction."

"I'm basically a happy person. I thank God for everyday. I have so many older friends who moan and groan constantly. I work all the harder to be otherwise. The years go by too fast. We just have to be kind to one another, help each other and see only the best in everybody." - a 77 year old widow.

On marriages and families.

"I feel families are the cornerstones of our world. They give us strength and support during tough times."

"I married my high school sweetheart right out of high school. My wife is a saint. When the Lord made her, He threw the mold away. We are very happy with each other and we are financially secure."

On rural life.

Several readers gave their views about living in Midwestern communities or in small rural communities.

"We've got it made compared to either coast."

"We spent two years doing "quality of life" research before moving off the East Coast to the Fargo-Moorhead area. We couldn't be happier with our decision. It is so refreshing to have left behind the one-murder-a-day average accrued in our former area (Baltimore). Both of us were born and raised in Pennsylvania and we don't have a relative within 1200 miles, but this is the place that fits our values and it will here where we raise our kids." -A Minnesota resident.

"Yearly trips to Minneapolis or Denver for a play or a meal are not enough but better by far than living there."

"I would prefer living where it's warmer and there's much more to do. It's boring here when we are not working." - A resident of a community of 100.

"I live in small town North Dakota. No young people around. Very sad!" - A 29 year old single male.

"When you have four sons and are very involved in your church, Christian school and private business, you know how many hours you spend in community activities."

"I've been happy and satisfied wherever I have lived due to the fact that I have taken myself along each time."