When I first visited out here back in the 1980s, I was immediately struck by how cheerful everyone was.
It didn’t seem forced or phony. People were literally happy. I cannot explain it. Golden state atmosphere, perhaps? Everything turns to gold. Or could it be that unhappy people just leave.
Unhappy like — forgive me — a lot of people in New Jersey, as an example that comes to mind immediately. Now, don’t get me wrong. NJ, especially at the shore and Monmouth, Ocean, Freehold counties, is gorgeous. Rolling green farms, orchards loaded with fruit, white beaches with warm, blue water and undulating dunes, bursting with lobsters, crab and other sea fare. I love New Jersey and my parents owned a home there at the beach for my entire childhood.
While I was living there, I never noticed the sadness or pessimism. But the minute I left the East Coast, traveled the world and ultimately moved to California, I could spot someone from the Garden State immediately. They always seemed to have a cloud following them around.
New Yorkers are seriously, pragmatic, street-savvy people. But they aren’t sad.
Forgive these sweeping generalizations because I am sure there are many exceptions to all of this. These are my ethnographic observations and merely anecdotal.
But, of one thing I am sure. California is a happier place to be for many reasons. And believe me, I resisted it for years. I simply could not incarnate in a place where everyone was just celebrating all the time. It seemed impossible and wrong, somehow. But this year, of all times in my life, I am so grateful I am here in California. I want to wrap this state around me and my family and protect us from the dark waves rolling over our country. It has become my bunker.
Pivoting a bit — and coming back to the standard explanations for California happiness — is trust. Californians trust their state to do good and right things that will make them happy. They don’t need a disruptor disintermediating. They trust their interlocutors and leaders.
One of the reasons is, the state has been controlled for the most part, for decades, by progressives. And the result is a superior health care system, responsiveness to the homeless population, low crime rates, a well regulated and equipped law enforcement system and an adequate infrastructure maintenance and development program. It isn’t perfect, as the recent dam overflow demonstrated but it is better than most.
This is a large, expansive, and populous state with a thriving economy. While my beloved New York State will always be home and first in my estimation, I finally acknowledge the excellence of quality living in California. A high standard of living, every kind of natural resource and beautiful weather are just icing on the cake. And all that with those pesky rules, restrictions and regulations that libertarians are always dreaming should be done away with. Uh, I don’t think so. They work here and no one seems to chafe at them.
For all the people that ridicule Californians for being superficial, light-weights or shallow, for bleeding heart liberalism and left-wing fringe-ism, Californians are actually having a good time, while caring for and about their fellow men and women. In fact, you can only be generous to others, when your basic needs are met. They are met here in abundance. California has been and will continue to actually walk the progressive talk. If you want to know what the future would look like throughout this country, if progressives were enabled to implement their policies and realize their vision of America as a prospering people who look out for each other and embody the highest values of the human spirit, just look at California right now.
Californians are having the last laugh.
Images: Chez BeBe assets: San Diego, California