A SHOT OF WRY: Declining Happiness Is Some Very Sad News

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I was in a cheerful mood until I came across a story the other day that said happiness is on the decline.

According to the downer dispatch, a team of mathematicians from the University of Vermont analyzed

4.6 billion Twitter messages nationwide over 33 months and found that during the past year they reflect a gloomy trend.

Then again, maybe it was just the scientists’ imagination. How’d you like to spend your days cooped up reading 4.6 billion Twitter messages?

The fact that we don’t have THEIR job should make the rest of us happy.

I’m not sure how they measured recordings on the grump-o-meter, based on a short Twitter message.  The story said each word in a Tweet was assigned a certain “happiness value,” with “bah,” “humbug,” “IRS audit” and “visiting mother-in-law” registering on the low end of the scale.

Twitter messages that contained such terms as “I won the lottery!” “Free drinks for everybody!” and “Melba said yes!” ranked on the high end.

The study revealed that people seem to be happier on weekends than on Mondays (duh!).

I could have told them that and saved them a lot of Twitter-sorting. Also, people who are strapped into a dentist’s chair undergoing a root canal tend to be less cheerful than, say, those who are lying on a beach in Cancun getting a back-rub from a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model.

I’m not disputing the scientists’ sourpuss findings, understand, but most of the folks I hang around with are fairly upbeat. I don’t know many Gloomy Guses and Glum Gladyses.

We don’t slip down the street clicking our heels while humming “Zippitty-do-dah,” but we certainly don’t mope around worrying about drowning when the polar ice caps melt. Or what we’re going to do when the sun eventually burns out. We’ve got a few billion years left – let’s try to enjoy them, instead of worrying about the expiration date on our flashlight batteries.

We’ve all been around Sad Sacks, and it’s not pleasant. Give them a lemon, and instead of making lemonade they’ll manage to squirt it their eye.

Their glass is always half empty, and whatever’s in the other half doesn’t taste good.

Give them champagne they’ll complain about the bubbles in their nose.

Offer them caviar and they’d rather have fish eggs.

If the sun’s shinning they fret about freckles.

If a bluebird chirps it hurts their ears.

They have a CD consisting entirely of lonesome train whistles in the night.

Their favorite dwarf is Grumpy.

They enjoy movies in which nobody gets the girl.

If they get up in the morning feeling good, they lie down till it goes away.

If somebody’s nice to them they wonder what they’re up to.

They figure Bambi’s mom would have got hit by a car anyway.

They think the only thing good on TV is commercials about constipation.

In the drive-thru they order an un-Happy Meal.

They look at a cuddly puppy and think, “Rabies!”

They consider “Gloom” and “Doom” good names for twins.

If life were a golf game they’d spend it buried in the rough.

They leave no party un-pooped.

They see a dark cloud behind every silver lining.

I don’t understand why anyone would want to mope their way through life like that, but it’s their choice -- apparently being sad makes them happy.

Larry Woody can be contacted at larrywoody@gmail.com.

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