Lynn and Doug Nodland

Doug and Lynn Nodland

How happy are you? We hope that you are generally happy.

What got us thinking about this subject is that announced findings from the World Happiness Report, that Carver County ranked as the happiest county out of 980 counties in the United States with a population of at least 50,000. Congratulations, Carver County residents!

So, how did we get that honor? It’s based on eight criteria as listed in a Carver County press release: unemployment rate, poverty rate, affordability ratio, marriage rate, divorce rate, bankruptcy rate, physical activity rate and life expectancy. Carver County also placed first in 2018 and ranked in the top five counties for the fifth time. That all sounds good and Carver County is a wonderful place to live.

However, we know those glowing statistics don’t mean that every individual is happy. What does it mean to be happy, anyway? Most experts agree that being happy is feeling pleasure or contentment, satisfied, in a good mood and having a subjective sense of well-being. In case you aren’t having those feelings as much as you would like to, we’ll share some ideas on how to become happier. After all, we all want to keep our Carver County happy title and ensure next year’s top ranking, as well as feeling those positive vibes in our lives.

There are so many things we all can do to boost happiness. The “Harvard Happiness Study,” a 75-year study of men, showed that good relationships keep us healthier and happier. We’re convinced that it’s just as important for women to have good close relationships.

The quality of the relationships is more important than the quantity. To have good relationships means letting go of grudges and practicing forgiveness. A strong support system is crucial. Happiness is promoted through spirituality; being around people who share your values; and having a sense of belonging. Having a pet can bring happiness, too.

Being in nature and exercising boost mood and finding a purpose gives life meaning. Practicing gratitude daily contributes to a positive outlook. Steve Maraboli said, “if you want to find happiness, find gratitude.”

We met two people who are friends, Sandy Schmidt, Chaska resident, and Jean Allard, Chanhassen resident. They were relaxing, sitting on a park bench after finishing their walk at Lake Susan Park. We asked each of them what makes them happy. Sandy answered, “There are so many good things around our area here — the lakes, the walking trails, nice people, and good medical facilities. Happiness surrounds all of us!”

Jean shared that what makes her happy is “The Chaska Community Center, because I do water aerobics there. We have a wonderful group of women who meet there and have coffee and eat snacks and we don’t worry that we just tried to lose weight by doing it (water aerobics). Anyway, it’s great — and I love the area because there are a lot of trails, just like Sandy said.”

We wondered if there are things that seemed to make each of them happy as they got older. Sandy said, “The older you get, the more you count your blessings, things you weren’t aware of when you were younger.”

Jean shared, “The older I get family is number one. I’m fortunate, I have my three children here in town for the first time. One son just moved back from Korea with his wife. What a thrill that is! It’s been wonderful!”

Sandy and Jean told us that they have been friends for many years! Jean said they didn’t want their real age out there, but were classmates from 19**. We followed up with saying that, of course (wink), they were only 3 years old that year. Actually, you’ll see this information revealed if you watch the related video at They obviously have a wonderful close friendship, one which contributes to happiness.

How about you? What do you want to do to increase happiness?

Some ideas for you: If you want to be more happy, try some of the ways that were listed above. Of course, if you are very unhappy, please seek professional advice. There are answers to help you feel happier.

It may take time for happiness to increase because it can mean a change in mindset and in habits. Be patient with yourself as you pursue ways that can bring you more happiness.

As we all enjoy even more happiness, it helps each of us and it contributes to Carver County continuing to rank as the happiest county in the United States.

Chanhassen residents, Doug and Lynn Nodland are success coaches and owners of The Balance Center. Doug and Lynn can be contacted at More information and videos at


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