The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

January 7, 2013

Carol Stark: Boost your happiness: Read a newspaper

— Want to know one of the key differences between the most- and least-happy folks who participated in a University of Maryland study that analyzed how 30,000 people spent their free time?

The happy people preferred to peruse a newspaper than stare at their TV.

I couldn’t help but do a double take when I read an article in Prevention magazine called “6 Weird Things that Make You Happy.” Subtitled “Unexpected ways to boost your bliss,” the article examined “happiness triggers.”

Complete disclosure here: Reading a newspaper came in at No. 6.

Here are the other things that triggered happy buttons:

1. Tear-jerker movies. Apparently when we watch a sad movie, our own existence seems much better.

2. Getting older. As we age, our gray cells react less intensely to the negative things we see and hear. About 42 percent of those over age 50 said they felt optimistic about life’s next chapter.

3. A fake smile. According to the study, even a fake smile is better than no smile at all.

4. Thursdays. People say they get a little happiness “bounce” by Thursday. Yep, it’s the new Friday.

5. Doing less for your kids. Parents who tend to think they have to do everything for their kids are less happy than those who let their kids figure it out by themselves.

And then there’s No. 6 — reading a newspaper.

I’m not sure I like the fact that the people who conducted the study labeled reading a newspaper as a “weird” thing if it makes you happy.

But, if you fall into this category, we’re making a few changes that could add to your happiness.

You may have noticed a new puzzle has been added to the Family Fun section. It’s called Bananagrams! and it tests your word skills. The level of difficulty can be judged by the number of bananas shown in a small box. Friday was a three-banana day, and I couldn’t complete the puzzle. Hopefully, you’ll do much better than me.

On Jan. 14, we are trading out the comic strip “Arctic Circle” for “Rhymes with Orange.” As always, let me know what you think after you’ve read the new strip for a few weeks. Many of you have voiced your opinions about “Arctic Circle,” otherwise called “that cartoon at the bottom of the page.” Apparently it was less than memorable.

We know our readers love their pets. Beginning on Jan. 13, you will find a locally written pet column in the Life section of Sunday’s paper. We will bring you information regarding city ordinances that will affect pet ownership, details about dog parks in the area and pet adoption opportunities. We hope you will join in on the conversation with questions about pet ownership.

On a more serious note, we have added a Statehouse correspondent in Jefferson City to cover the legislative session that opens this week. Eli Yokley, of Webb City, attends the University of Missouri-Columbia but has been writing on the subject of politics for years. In addition to writing for us, he will continue his work as the chief political correspondent for Missouri News Horizon. He is also the editor in chief of PoliticMo, one of the top political blogs in Missouri as ranked by The Washington Post and The Riverfront Times. You can contact Yokley at eyokley@joplinglobe.com.

Feeling happier yet? I hope so. And, by the way, I don’t think that’s at all weird.

Carol Stark is editor of The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to her, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email cstark@joplinglobe.com. Follow Carol Stark on Twitter @carolstark30.

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