Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

April 10, 2014

Feeling happy is ...

Lana Bellamy
The Independent

ASHLAND — Anyone hoping the Ashland-Huntington area will soon overtake Disney World as “the happiest place on Earth” will be waiting awhile.

According to an NBC news study, the Tri-State area is the 10th “saddest city in the U.S.”

Not terribly attractive for a city seeking to reboost its economy while trying to maintain itself as one of the biggest cities in the state and the largest in the eastern region.

But to those using statistics that say, of all the places in the country, Ashland is the “saddest,” I disagree.

Being on my own and fresh out of college, I chose to come to Ashland above all other options. And I must say, I am lucky enough to wake up every day in love with my decision to live and work here.

Happiness is subjective. Not everyone can be happy or rejoice in the same things as others. Where I find opportunity in Ashland, others may see wasted time.

Where I see a generous, self-sufficient community, others may see poverty and crime-ridden homes.

It all comes down to your perspective when you wake up every day.

Yes, I wake up alone, with no family and few friends in this town, but those factors are not what I focus on.

Training yourself to be happy is very important to those considering living alone. While I feel there is a social void at home, I have learned to otherwise occupy myself.

It took awhile for me to adjust to this, after living with at least three other people in the house for 22 years, but it all clicked for me last night.

I noticed that living alone has caused me to become bored, lazy and generally withdrawn.

But last night, I experienced a shift in perspectives.

For some reason (don’t ask me why), I randomly selected an episode of “Conan” featuring Kristin Chenoweth to watch before falling asleep. I laughed so loudly that I was afraid my neighbor would come to my door at any second and tell me to chill out.

As the saying goes, laughter proves to be nature’s best medicine.

Maybe it was an endorphin-induced high or maybe I was just giddy. All I know is that suddenly, I wasn’t tired anymore. I got out of bed and became more productive.

Happiness is a chosen emotion. Rarely do people become happy without choosing to do so.

As for studies that dub Ashland and Huntington as the saddest cities in the U.S., consider them useless because happiness is what you make of it.

LANA BELLAMY can be reached at lbellamy@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.