What makes you happy, Worcester?

By William S. Coleman III

When I was given the assignment of writing this column, I thought I would ask people around the city: “What makes you happy?”

I met a woman who has lived in Worcester for seven years. She told me, with a coy look in her eye, that when she moved to Worcester she had no expectations, and Worcester hasn’t disappointed her yet!

While driving around the city, I stopped people randomly and had them tell me what makes them happy. Some of their responses:

Good friends
Good family
Caring about people
Achieving success in a career
Getting scholarships to go to college
Meeting someone and falling in love and being able to go public about it

Then I met the folks who were having tough economic times. They would say money made them happy. Some would say: just to be able to pay their bills and not fear losing their homes would make them happy.

The feeling of happiness is a very personal one. There will be times when each one of us will have an opportunity to laugh silly at a joke or smile at our good fortune. Happiness is something we all will feel. And to balance the feeling of happiness is the reality that someday we will feel sad about an event that happens in our lives. There were many people who told me they felt happy because of a pet that brought them joy and comfort.

Other folks talked about family making them happy. The smile from a Grandmother. Twenty dollars from a Grandfather. An Uncle connected with people who could help get that person a job. Or an Aunt you can talk to who just made it better.

What can we do as a city, a city inhabited by people with different interests and goals, to get happy?

I think we all need to lighten up and appreciate what we have in Central Massachusetts. I once read that if you are not happy where you are, you will bring that unhappiness to wherever you go. As a society we have many images around us that make us feel unhappy with what we have. In Central Massachusetts we have a beautiful Art Museum and Ecotarium, the Higgins Armory Museum, several outstanding colleges and universities, and hospitals that save lives and bring knew babies into the world. We have the best public library with hard working staff, the Worcester Public Library. I am happy to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Worcester Public Library.

I find that people who volunteer are very happy; it seems natural that when you give of yourself you feel good about what you’ve done.

So as I continued to ask people what makes them happy in Worcester I went to the “United Nations of Worcester,” my favorite hot spot, the Pickle Barrel Restaurant and Deli on Pleasant Street. Boy, did I get an earful!

Some people at the “Pickle” told me they are happy when:
They can sit and read a new edition of InCity Times!
Eat a good breakfast
Enjoy that second cup of coffee while striking up a conversation with a perfect stranger
Belief in God
Seeing a relative who has served in the military returning home safely from Iraq or Afghanistan
Saving money on a meal that will last you the whole day
Having someone pay for your meal anonymously
Hearing a good joke that will give you a great belly laugh

One person said something I can’t print!

A business woman said getting a new coffee account
Another person said a great deal on a car
A single Dad with two daughters said finding an apartment that he could afford
A waitress told me getting a really good tip
And Gus, the Pickle Barrel’s owner, said, “A satisfied customer.”

Surprisingly, no one told me they were happy with the Worcester City Council, chuckle, chuckle.

One guy said to me as I was leaving: Hey, Bill, if they can’t take a joke . . . .

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