Joe Pisani (opinion): The secret to happiness is ... better PR

Rows of blue sad faces and one smiley face.
Rows of blue sad faces and one smiley face.Fairfax Media via Getty Images

We all want to be happy, right? Well, maybe not all of us. Some people are only happy when they’re making other people miserable or when they’re making themselves miserable, but that’s a discussion for another day.

In my pursuit of happiness — which, according to Thomas Jefferson, is an unalienable right endowed by my Creator — I’ve read countless studies, accumulated a library of books, considered taking courses on happiness at Harvard and Yale, thought about therapy, and tried my damndest to face the world with a smile.

I realize now I didn’t have to do any of that. All I needed to do was move to another country, just like those celebrities who are always threatening to leave America but never do.

All the misinformation I needed to make a decision was in the World Happiness Report, published by United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. (Whoever dreamt up that name should be writing for “Saturday Night Live.”)

The annual report, which ranks countries on their happiness, was released on the UN International Day of Happiness, March 20. (Whoever dreamt up that holiday should be writing Hallmark greeting cards.)

Gallup researchers conducted interviews with 350,000 people in 95 countries. They didn’t ask questions like, “How big is your paycheck?” Or “Are you involved in a throuple? Or “Do you take mind-altering drugs?” Instead, they asked probing questions such as, “Did you smile yesterday?” “Have you ever laughed?” “Would you laugh if someone ran over your foot with a shopping cart?” “Would you smile if you found a wallet with $1,000?” “Would you consider giving the money to UNESCO? If yes, please call this toll-free number.”

Despite all the anger in the United States, we jumped four spots to 14th place in this year’s survey, which may have something to do with legalized marijuana.

Even more amazing, China got a better ranking than France. I always thought the French were happy-go-lucky and known for their “foie gras,” not to mention their “joie de vivre.”

China moved up to the winners’ circle. Even with Wuhan, Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong, the country is bubbling over with so much happiness, Lin-Manuel Miranda could write a musical like “Hamilton” and call it “Chairman Mao.”

I’ll quote “Forbes” so you don’t think I’m making this up: “China made the top 20 in 2021, coming in at 19. It was a dramatic leap from last year when China was at 94.” My math isn’t good, but I think they jumped 75 spots, just in time for the Winter Olympics.

How did they pull that off? I’ll tell you: The miracle of public relations. An effective PR program, combined with censorship and repression, will boost people’s spirits every time. The Communists sent out a directive that said: “BE HAPPY OR ELSE ... we’ll send you to America!” I suspect the CDC will follow their example and issue a directive that says, “Get vaccinated or else ... we’ll send you to China!”

If we want to move up 75 spots from 14th place, Joe Biden has to take a page out of the Chinese Five-Year Happiness Plan and issue an executive order telling Americans: “Forget COVID, inflation and crime ... LET’S BE HAPPY.”

Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Switzerland, Netherlands and Sweden ranked among the top 10 countries because they live simpler lives. They enjoy skiing, ice fishing and yodeling, so their stress levels are considerably lower than America’s, where people are afraid to yodel. They’re also afraid to say who they voted for because it could lead to severe beatings over Thanksgiving dinner.

We could learn a lot from the Finns. They’ve been the world’s happiest people for four years. I researched their lifestyle to discover their secrets.

Their favorite pastimes are reading books, 56 percent; walking, 49 percent; exercising outside (as opposed to exercising in gyms where people wear practically nothing), 48 percent; and solving Sudoku puzzles, 32 percent. I couldn’t find anything about throuples, happy hour, TikTok or Twitter.

Here’s my suggestion, which I’m going to share with our elected and unelected leaders such as Andrew Cuomo: President Biden should require all unvaccinated Americans, especially young people, to do 15 Sudoku puzzles a day to keep them away from parties, restaurants and Capitol Hill. And Dr. Fauci should be required to do 115 Sudoku puzzles a day to keep him away from the media. I guarantee Americans will be a lot happier.

Now, I’m going to book my flight to Helsinki. As they say, “älä huoli ole onnellinen!” which is either Finnish or Chinese for “Don’t worry, be happy!”

Former Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time Editor Joe Pisani can be reached at joefpisani@yahoo.com