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Yarbrough: Happiness a state of mind
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I feel like a failure. For years, I have told you what a privilege it is to live in Georgia.

We have beautiful mountains, pristine beaches, the oldest state-chartered university in the nation, Vidalia onions and more concrete fishponds than you can count. And we are unhappy. Where have I gone wrong?

A survey by Gallup-Healthways called the Well-Being Index released last month says Georgia is only the 31st happiest state in the nation. For those of you weary of seeing Georgia near the bottom of every ranking (thank goodness for Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi), you have to be comforted knowing 19 states are unhappier than we are (including - wouldn't you know it? - Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi).

What grinds my molars is not that Hawaii is the happiest state. After all, they have rainbows, pineapples and a U.S. president who claims he was born there. I can't knock that, but here's the next three happiest states: Wyoming, North Dakota, (which I thought was in Canada) and Alaska (ditto.)

Notice anything these states have in common? Snow. Lots of snow. It is a proven fact that if you are subjected to snow long enough (like 10 months out of the year), it will freeze your brain and make think you are happy just before your fingers and toes fall off.

That rule doesn't seem to apply to the Northeast. Its denizens are bright enough to know it's a miserable place to live most of the year, so they head South. Unfortunately, in doing so, they thaw out and turn into loud-talking, know-it-all Yankees who tell us natives what a bunch of ignorant rednecks we are.

Now, could it be that deep down inside we are unhappy because we think Yankees are correct; that we are a bunch of ignorant rednecks? I'm not sure about the redneck part but I do know we don't seem to be smart enough to understand why people come down here and criticize us but refuse to move back to the rusted abodes of their homeland. No question, we do have a lot to learn.

I am not going to be a bad sport and knock the states ahead of us but let's try to examine what might be making us unhappy.

One problem, I do believe, is that Malfunction Junction, aka, the City of Atlanta, is in our state. How it got here I will never know.

Atlanta adds little to our quality of life. They take too much of our water. Their sewers don't work and the roads are full of potholes. Even the daily newspaper left town.

We also don't have the swiftest Legislature in the world and that scares a lot of us. You never know what they are going to do when they get together. It could be to arm preachers ("Repent! Or I'll blow a hole clean through you!") or allow legally baited fields so it is easier to shoot unarmed deer (if we arm preachers, why not deer?), or seeing just how miserable they can make life for public school teachers.

Kudzu may also contribute to our emotional instability. We have more kudzu than Yankees. I am hoping Gov. Nathan Deal will pick up on my idea to promote a new economic development initiative called, "Watch Goats Eat Kudzu, Georgia." Based on the innovative program, "Go Fish, Georgia," the hallmark of Deal's predecessor, George E. Perdue, we would bus in tourists to watch goats eat the kudzu off the Interstates and sell them potlikker and tell them it is moonshine. Once the goats have eaten all the kudzu, then they can go eat Atlanta.

Reach Dick Yarbrough at or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, GA 31139.