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Happiness is a state of mind

By Carroll Smith
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After the weather debacle that occurred in many of the U.S. rice-growing states last year, it felt good to ring out 2009 and welcome in 2010. As University of Missouri’s Donn Beighley said in his Specialists Speaking comments in December, “It’s finally over!”

And to start off the year on a positive note, let me tell you about a study conducted by researchers at the University of Warwick in the UK and Hamilton College in the United States and published in the journal Science. The researchers examined a 2005-08 Behav-ioral Risk Factor Surveillance System random sample – made up of 1.3 million U.S. citizens – in which life satisfaction in each state is measured.

The good news is that four out of the six rice-producing states appeared in the top 20 happiest states in America. Arkansas ranked No. 17; Texas, No. 16; Mississippi, No. 6; and Louisiana led the pack at No. 1 – the happiest state in America. Perhaps the industry should capitalize on these recently published rankings by sporting a new bumper sticker that reads: Don’t worry. Be happy. Eat rice.

By definition, happiness is a state of mind or feeling characterized by contentment, love, satisfaction, pleasure or joy. And what could be more comforting and pleasurable that a big, hot bowl of red beans and rice with andouille sausage or a side of rice and gravy with crispy fried chicken? Thus, my conclusion is that eating rice makes me happy.

The subject of happiness reminds me of Papa, my maternal grandfather, who was a prolific letter writer. He communicated with each of his grandchildren on a regular basis via the U. S. postal service, even though he lived only an hour away. The letters weren’t necessarily long, but he always tried to offer advice on various subjects or perhaps share an inspirational passage he came upon while reading or a newspaper clipping that he thought would be relevant to us at that stage of our lives.

I have saved a good many of those letters and still look back at them today. The gist of one of my favorites is that we ultimately have control over our attitude toward life. He said, “No matter what circumstances you are faced with in life – positive or negative – it is your choice of how you will react to them. Always choose to be happy, and that choice will give you strength in the face of adversity or prosperity.”

As 2009 fades away and a new year begins, my resolution is to take Papa’s advice and see how that works for me in 2010. I invite all of you to give it a try, also, and with that thought in mind, Happy New Year!

Send your comments to: Editor, Rice Farming Magazine, 5118 Park Ave., Suite 111, Memphis, Tenn., 38117. Call (901) 767-4020 or e-mail

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