Nation’s happiest man helps others beat blues

The Virginian-Pilot © March 7, 2003

Virginia Beach stockbroker J.P. “Gus” Godsey is the happiest man in America, according to the cover story in this week-end’s USA Weekend magazine, which claims 49 million readers.

Interestingly enough, the magazine began its search for the happiest man by first locating the best place to live. Quality-of-life statistics from thousands of towns were fed into a computer, which crunched the numbers, then declared Virginia Beach the leader in the things that promote happiness, including public safety, affordability of homes, healthy environment, income and education. Who knows? Perhaps the computer was partial to beaches. In any case, Virginia Beach prevailed.

The next step was to find the happiest guy in the city. Godsey took the Seligman’s Values in Action Signature Strengths test. Happy people score high on it. Godsey, 45, “ranked at the very top among the 70,000 worldwide who have taken the test,” the magazine says.

Even his 2,300-square-foot house contains all of the things that the National Association of Home Builders says satisfied homeowners report having: eat-in kitchen, 9-foot ceiling, a deck and an office. Plus he’s a healthy married dad with a good, dependable job and no extraordinary financial concerns. What, him worry?

If one lesson can be taken from Godsey’s life, it’s that interacting with and helping others is key to being happy. Studies show that volunteer work and civic involvement contribute to happiness. Godsey does not spend his life asking himself if he is happy. He helps others be happy.

He is a member of the city’s Human Rights Commission, founder of local Thanksgiving and holiday food and toy drives, a coordinator of benefit concerts and past chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia Beach. Perhaps he is too busy to mope. Or more to the point, he’s too caring to mope. Congratulations to Virginia Beach and to its happiest resident, “Gus” Godsey, for bringing a smile to so many faces.