A lesson in happiness

Published 10:53 pm Monday, June 15, 2009

Normally, I consider myself a pretty happy person.

I have wonderful family, great friends, a good job, a functioning car, a place to sleep at night, food to eat and countless other blessings that many cannot claim. I have a lot to be thankful for.

However, I was blown away by my recent meeting with J.P. “Gus” Godsey, who in 2003 was named the “Happiest Man in America” by USA Weekend magazine. Godsey lives in Virginia Beach and hosts a talk show on WPMH 670 AM radio every afternoon Monday-Friday from 4 to 6 p.m.


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To be named the Happiest Man in America, Godsey went through a battery of tests that are now available on the Web, at www.authentichappiness.com. He scored in the highest percentile on the tests three times in a row.

I took the tests, and scored only in the 50th percentile, which means about the same number of people are happier than me and less happy than me. The results didn’t surprise me – as anybody who knows me will attest, I can be the voice of doom and gloom sometimes, despite my inner happiness. In fact, my editor joked that the world might end when I met Godsey, because of the opposite forces colliding.

As I sat with Godsey, his staffers and his guest (World War II veteran Richard Banta, whom I wrote about in this space last week), I found myself in awe of his demeanor. Nothing slowed him down – not a printer malfunction, not a slip of the tongue on the air, not a staff error. Nothing. At every obstacle that stood in his way, it seemed he confronted it, laughed in its face, made a quick decision on what to do and breezed on over it.

Talking with Godsey during a commercial break, I was even more astounded. The man is divorced, drives a 10-year-old vehicle that just lost the air conditioning, and is currently in the midst of a last-ditch effort to avoid his home going into foreclosure.

However, Godsey is remarkably adept at seeing the good side of things. He told me that his house is “just a house.” He thinks he never should have gotten divorced, although he tries never to live in the past. And as for the truck, even though we’re approaching the hot summer months, he looks on the bright side.

“I drive past a lot of people waiting for the bus,” he told me.

Godsey attributes a large part of his happiness to his Christian faith. He also counts his blessings, does nice things for others, makes a conscious choice each day to have a good day, and smiles.

“I make a choice immediately about what kind of day it’s going to be,” Godsey said.

There you have it, folks – it’s all about your mindset. Choose to be happy, and you will be.