Lost My Sister Sue

I lost my sister Sue last year to cancer.  She went in the hospital for lung surgery.  She woke up after the operation and was fine.  She even ate a sub my brother brought in.  I am not saying she was doing back-flips, but she was alert and talkative.  That only lasted 24 hours and she slipped into a semi-coma on a Saturday.  Her organs began to shut down and she was gone seven days later.

I got the call from my family and caught a plane out to Indianapolis on Monday AM.  I visited with Sue in the AM for three hours and then in the evening for another hour or two every day.  Her eyes would open for a few minutes then drift shut.  The Saturday night before she passed I spent three hours with her playing Mills Brothers songs (they are both her’s and my favorites).  To tell you the truth, it got late and I think I saw her roll her eyes kind of saying “OK Gus, I am tired of your singing so hit the bricks and let me get some shut eye.”

I just thought I would share this even though it should have been posted some time ago. I just got it together enough to put the words down.    I miss Sue much even though we fought to much as siblings can do.   She would never miss my wrestling matches, made me homemade gifts when she ran out of Christmas present ideas, and came to spend summer vacations with me here in Virginia Beach.  She was a one of a kind.  Here’s to you Sue,

Sibling Love with sister Sue

Sibling Love with sister Sue

‘ll see you on the next go around.

“Deep In The Heart of Texas”

Dallas 2016I just got back from a consulting gig in Dallas.  I was the last person in the breakfast room and waiting for a flight.  I ended up singing “Deep In The Heart of Texas,” complete with the hand clapping for these nice ladies.  I talked them into singing it with me and got it on video.  I can’t figure out how to get that video on the site I but am working on it.  Check back next week.  It is hilarious to say the least.  Just an example of how anyone can have fun and be happy at anytime, just being silly.  Be young, be foolish, be happy!

The Art of Happiness…Volunteering

This is the Virginia Beach Polar Plunge 2016.  You want to see whatPolar Plunge 2016

happiness looks like, take a gander at this.  This was our “Roma Lodge Team #254.”   We were six strong and raised $2,600 toward the $1.2MM for the event.  It is not just the frigid water that had us giddy, it was the euphoric feeling of giving back.  It is being involved.  It is making a difference by DOING.  The #3 Happyism in “How To Be Happy EVERY DAY” mentions the specific scientific study detailing how people that give back, get back many times over.  There are so many that need and so many of us that can give.  Your church, school, civic league, little league team, neighbor or yes, even your Roma Lodge are great places to start.  As Aerosmith sang “Train Kept a rolling,” let’s all roll today!


Happiness is Friends/Family/Love

The Holiday Season is here!  I just wrapped up another fantastic homecoming at West Virginia Wesleyan College.  HereCotter-Gus HC 2015 is a best palie, Billy Cotter.  I had just arrived at our wonderful tailgate and he was reading John 2: 1-11 where Jesus turned the water into wine.  (Please don’t anybody take this wrong but what a  great story that is.  Jesus was at a wedding and they ran out of wine so, bada-bing-bada-boom, “here ya’ go”).  I said to Billy “you ain’t Jesus and how the heck can we be out of provisions already, it’s only Friday afternoon.”   Happiness is really about times like this.  Enjoy everyone of those that you can grab onto, starting TODAY.  Let’s really make it “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Til’ then,


Richard Hassell Dinner April 25, 2015

Richard Hassell

Hi All:

I had the BIG TIME honor of speaking at this years Richard Hassell Foundation Dinner.  Those of you that knew Mr. Hassell, knew him as the legend that he was.  John Wayne, Robin Hood, Gandhi, and Santa Clause all rolled into one.  He was a tireless servant to the poor serving the hundreds who “fall through the cracks” of government social programs.  There were many who worked along side of him, especially during the holdiays.  We collected Toys & Turkeys, Hams & Holiday, and many, many items so many need and so many of us take for granted.  He delivered all of these along with an endless smile and a heaping helping of HOPE.  He was awarded one of President George H.W. Bush’s “1000 Points of Light” in the 1990’s.  This is one of the highest honors the President can offer to those who selflessly serve their communities and country.

Mr. Hassell died in 2000.  Several of us raised the money to begin a foundation in his honor to continue his work.  I served as the first Chairman for several years.  It means a great deal to me and is the kind of organization that if supported, can make a real difference in lives throughout the country.   The Foundation continues today under the leadership of Pat (Richard’s daughter) and her husband Louis Stewart.  If you would like to support this wonderful organization contact them at 757/361-0407 or mrlouis@cox.net.

Til’ Then,



Richard Hassell Picture

Cowboys in Rapid City, SD

Cowboys in Rapid CityIf this is not a pure slice of American, I don’t know what is.  My consulting work keeps me in the heartland of America, WI, MN, and SD.  A lot of folks in Rapid City and everybody at their airport wear cowboy hats.   It is way cool and obviously I feel right at home there.  By the way for those of you that forgot, Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse Mountain are there.  Two of the greatest sites in America.

Well take a peek at this young cowboy and his Grandpa.  They were on their way to Dallas and decided to rest for a spell and split a hamburger.  I caught the pic just as the buckaroo took a glance my way.  God Bless America, it don’t get any better.

Til’ then,


Seven Words That Will Kill ANY Organization.

Just back from Los Angeles at an authors convention…”Author 101 University” sponsored by the publicist of my books Mr. Rick Frishman.  www.rickfrishman.com  He is the best in the business and a fantastic human being.  If any of you are thinking of writing a book, you would be well schooled, to start with Rick.  Caught a couple a pictures of “The Boys” stars off of Sunset Strip in the heart of Hollywood.  I thought I would share them with you.  The kings of cool!

To the point of the title of this blog.   I was at the 11:AM service of Lynnhaven Presbyterian Church this past Sunday, planted on the third row, listening to my Padre, the Rev. Scottie Griffin, shuck the corn.  Man, he can bring it!  He was talking about service, not just to the church but service to our fellow man.  All of a sudden he popped out these words, “We never did it that way before.”  “If anyone wants to know the last words of any organization, business, church or civic league, I promise those are the  last words that were spoken before they shut the doors.”

It made a meaningful impact on me.  Volunteering is the key to happiness.  When someone new comes in and wants to serve, we want to make sure we welcome their energy, commitment and new ideas.  That is the life blood of keeping the wheels turning.  Lets all take these words to heart and make sure they are never part of our speech.  “Giving back means getting back…many times over.”

Remember…”Be a Bully to Bullying.”   Gus

Frank Sinatra Star in LA

Frank Sinatra Star in LA

Dean Martin Star in LA

Dean Martin Star in LA

Happiness is a loving Sister!

IMG_0648We fought like cats and dogs until after college.  Still scrap a bit when we get under each others skin.  But we love each other as family should.   Love you Sue.  Thanks for always keeping me happy.  XO…gus

Pictures here are from homecoming at our beloved college West Virginia Wesleyan, October 18, 2014 and my birthday party in Virginia Beach where she surprised me and showed up…all the way from Indiana.  What a gal!  PS…don’t forget, “Be a Bully to Bullying.”




New Anti-Bullying Press Relase

"How Scooter Gets His Tail Back"  Chapter 3

“How Scooter Gets His Tail Back” Chapter 3

Hey Guys:

With the absurdity that is going on in the NFL, this could not be more timely.  I am not going to jump on the pile when they are down but this has been building up for three decades and the chickens are finally coming home to roost.  The “in your face,” taunting, spiking the ball, chest thumping, terrible sportsmanship, “hey world look at me, I am great,” who can dress and look the weirdest to draw attention to themselves mentality has manifested itself to reveal what we all saw coming.

The taunting is probably the worst.  That is the pure act of being a bully.  It has no place on the field or in life.  I still love football but I will support every effort the league makes to clean it up.  And…we can all do the same in our own lives and neighborhoods.


MEDIA CONTACT:                            **FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**

Rick Frishman, Publisher

Morgan James Publishing

516.620.2528 Ext.101



With the now weekly NFL horror stories rearing their ugly heads, this could not be more timely.

We all see the horror stories far too frequently where another child has taken their life due to the senseless and relentless bullying.  We all know what bullying is but for those that want the technical definition…according to the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (CDC), “bullying is repeated verbal, physical, social or psychological aggressive behavior by a person or group directed towards a less powerful person or group that is intended to cause harm, distress or fear.”

30% of American youth are bullied.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Suicide is the third leading cause of death among our youth.  Many of these attempts are bullying related.  And this will shock you…for every 1 successful suicide, there are over 100 attempts.  It has to STOP!

J. P. “Gus” Godsey has just released a children’s book “How Scooter Gets His Tail Back” through Morgan James Publishing www.Morgan-James.com.  The story spins a riveting tail that delivers a strong anti-bullying message and details the consequences of reckless behavior. Our children’s return to school is right around the corner so the opportunity could not be timelier. Godsey is available for interviews to discuss the extent of the problems with bullying and the following:

*  Tell-tail signs to identify if your child is being bullied.

*  The negative results from bulling.

*  What parents and adults can do when they see bullying is happening.

*  Cyber-Bullying and social media bullying.

*  Godsey shares his story of being physically bullying at 5 years home (in kindergarten).

*  And much more.

Again, back to school is here.  This is a topic that parents are eager to hear more about.  Don’t miss out.

If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with J.P. “Gus” Godsey, please call Rick Frishman at 516.620.2528 Ext.101.

About the Author:

According to tests created by Dr. Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania, USA Weekend Magazine, a publication of USA Today, declared J.P. “Gus” Godsey “The Happiest Man in America.”  In addition to motivational speaking, Godsey has written How To Be Happy EVERY DAY, which describes 366 ways to be happy, as well as How To Be Happy In Hard Times, giving advice to turn difficult circumstances around. He believes part of his happiness is due to the amount of time he volunteers with his church, charities and clubs in Virginia Beach, where he has lived for the past 28 years.

If these guys had been in Ferguson, NO Trouble, NO Bullies

These are two of the nicest Policemen I have ever met.  They were working on opening day of the Irish Festival in Milwaukee.  We had a candid conversation about the terrible situation in Ferguson.  They were honest, open and objective.  I believe if more officers like these two fine gentlemen were in MO, cooler heads would have prevailed.  I’ll tell you one thing, they would not have tolerated bullying, screaming, looting or other foolishness.  They would have welcomed and protected the peaceful protesters.

God Bless the men and women who serve and protect.

My anti-bullying book “How Scooter Gets His Tail Back” is available at all of the usual on line sites or ask for it at your local bookstore.  Please read it and review it and let’s put the bullying to a stop.

Two great guys and a a cheesecake in the middle.

Two great guys and a cheesecake in the middle.

Happiness on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk with USA Today

USA Today was taking pics for the Mr. Happy article on the VB Boardwalk

USA Today was taking pics for the Mr. Happy article on the VB Boardwalk

People tend to think of happiness as a stroke of luck, something that will descend

like fine weather if you’re fortunate. But happiness is the result of personal effort.

You fight for it, strive for it, insist Upon it, and sometimes even travel around the

world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly.

— Elizabeth Gilbert

Don’t forget to ask for a copy of “How Scooter Get’s His Tail Back” at your local book

store or go on line at all of the regular outlets.  It is  perfect for back to school or the

upcoming holidays.

Till next time,



Atheist Group Tries to BULLY Football Team

Here we go again, just stop it!

Here we go again, just stop it!

Did you see the news?  As reported by B.J. Williams of WDUN  radio and Todd Starnes of Fox News, the American Humanist Association (AHA) sent a letter on behalf of ONE, that’s right, ONE unnamed citizen demanding that the football coaching staff stop participating in team prayers and that they remove all biblical references and religious messages from team documents.  It seems what got the AHA ticked off is the team workout schedule included the words “Fortitude 2014, Gal. 6:9” and the cheerleaders wrote a Bible verse on a large banner: “Iron Sharpens Iron, Proverbs 21:17.”  Well bless their God un-fearing hearts.

We saw this coming a mile away.  The good folks in Gainesville, GA take their football and their Jesus seriously and don’t “cotton” to a bunch of football/Jesus hating whiners telling them what to do.  On Wednesday morning more than 200 people showed up for an impromptu prayer/pep/support/run a play up the middle rally.

Gainesville School System Superintendent Will Schofield told WDUN they would investigate the claims of the atheists .  He also added, “Unfortunately when school systems get letters like this and people start rattling sabers, usually the first reaction by a lot of school districts is, ‘Oh my goodness, we don’t want to be in the news. We don’t want to be sued, so we better stop doing whatever we are doing,’” he said. “I don’t think that will be the first reaction of the Hall County School Board.

How do you like that?  A man that actually stands up for and by his convictions.  Send that Superintendent a case of steaks and Pabst Blue Ribbon.  He is my new hero.

Take that you bullies!





“How Scooter Get’s His Tail Back” on shelf display at Barnes & Noble

Scooter Book Cover Hi All

Just got this email from a friend in VA Beach, John Del Russo, the illustrator of my new book (the picture will be posted shortly).  He was shopping in Barnes & Noble and saw a copy of my new children’s book “How Scooter Gets His Tail Back,” on the stores shelves and actually being displayed, picture below.  As many of you know this is really tough thing to get done, getting shelf space.  So the bottom line I am going to enjoy the moment.

Trust me, they ain’t clearing off a spot on the NY Times best seller list just yet.  If you have interest, the book is available at all of the usual places on line as well as my website, www.MrHappyUSA.com in both hard and e-book form.

Again, this book has a strong Anti-Bullying message.  As the Blues Brothers said in their classic movie “I am on a mission from God” to get this message out that we are not going to tolilate this anymore

Let me tell you how I was bullyed…at 5 years old!

"How Scooter Get's His Tail Back"  Chapter 3
“How Scooter Get’s His Tail Back” Chapter 3

I am not whining, crying or dieing.  I am living life in AMERICA in the middle of this fantastic  Summer of 2014.  Since I have been focused on bullying, and will continue to, I want to tell you about the first time I was bullied.  When I say I hate bullying, I have been-there, done-that.  Take a look and see.

In 1962 we lived, Mom, Sister-Sue, Brother-PJ, in a semi-ghetto (heck it was worse than semi, it was a ghetto) in Lancaster, PA. on Rockland and Dauphin Streets.  Tough neighborhood!  Our elementary school was directly across the street from our two story brownstone.  Mom was working three jobs to take care of three kids and trying to save some dough to get us out of the joint.  We walked to school and back home to a sitter who watched us until Mom got home.

I was 5 and in kindergarten and my teacher was Ms. Carol (who was my first love but that’s another  story).  I left class and headed home one snowy afternoon dressed like Ralphy’s little brother in “The Christmas Story.”  It was a classic snow suit.  Three kids, a couple of grades older, surrounded me and started shoving me around, calling me names, you know the story.  There was a small hill right by the school that they shoved me down and then they all started peeing on me…laughing and calling me names.   Seriously they pee’d on me until my snow suit was soaked.  A lot of pent up racism for three 8-9 year old black kids who had been taught to hate whites.

They walked away laughing, looking back, mocking “the baby.”  These were beyond bad guys.  They were nasty mean.   I was crying and scared and ran up the hill and across the street and into the arms of my second mother, Mrs. Shriner.   She was a huge black lady who thought of me as her own baby.  She looked like she could have been in “Gone With the Wind.”  I loved her.  Well her eyes bugged out and she grabbed a rolling pin in one hand, and me in the other, and we flew out the door.  My feet did not touch the floor (kind of like the picture of Scooter above).  I know to this day she would have wore those boys britches out had she caught them.

That’s it.  Those boys were bullies who had been taught hatred by their parents.  I learned to forgive them and even felt sorry for someone like that who could hate at such a young age.  Please join me with my passion and let’s make stopping bullying a priority.

Please pick up a copy of my just released book,  “How Scooter Gets His Tail Back” at all the usual places on line in hard copy or eBook.  It has a strong anti-bullying theme.  If you like it, please let me know and better yet, let the place where you got it know.  Til’ then, with love, Gus.

Enough is Enough: We all have to STOP THE BULLYING

Bullying!  Almost every day we hear the tragic news of a child dropping out of school or falling behind, running away from home, or worst takibully1ng their lives all do to the reckless tragedy of bullying.  It literally makes me sick.   I mean my stomach aches, head becomes numb and heart breaks with each story.  These kids maybe different, maybe not.  Maybe they march to the beat of their own drum, I don’t know.  I just read the stories and am stunned.  Then I get angry.

We have got to STOP IT.  We ALL need to make this a priority in our lives.  We need to step in, say something, stand up and the bully’s will stand down.  I am, with the grace of God, and perseverance to carry on, making this a major priority in my life and I hope you will too.

In the following weeks, I will be blogging about stories of my life when I was bullied.  One time I got beat up, rolled down a hill and pee’ed on by the 2nd grade “mafia” when I was in kindergarten walking home from school.  I am not making that up.  I will also discuss inspirational times that I or someone else intervened to stop a bully-punk from intimidating a smaller person.  That is something we all can do!  Together, as with all great things in life, we can make a difference.

My new book “How Scooter Get’s His Tail Back,” is being released this month.  It is aimed at 8-12 years of age and tells a story where the lead character, Scooter, bully’s, calls his friends names and generally acts like he is anxious for his Father to take him to the wood shed for a one on one with a paddle.  With the help and support from friends, people can change.  That is what happens to Scooter.  More on that later.  “Scooter’s”  is available at all of the normal outlets on line both in hard copy and eBook.  As always, thanks for the ear

They say “college students flunk Happiness”

Scooter's Friends from Chapter One

Scooter and Friends, from Chapter 1 of “How Scooter Gets His Tail Back”

What are they CRAZY!!!

The greatest four years of my life I spent at West Virginia Wesleyan College (The Harvard of the South).  I am still best buddies, guys and gals with the wonderful friends I met there 30 plus years ago.  A recent article in USA Today (who I want to go easy on them since they were the paper that named me “The Happiest Man In America”), stated college grads aren’t too happy.  The paper goes on to say less than 3% of the students “…reported having the type of campus experience that some studies suggest can lead to career and personal well-being.”

Well cry me a river.  The problem is pretty simple to me.  They are whiners who spent the majority of their four years (of I forgot, it supposedly takes five now, because it is so hard) in school with their heads wrapped around video games and their cell phones vs. learning social skills by joining clubs, fraternities/sororities and the like.  OH, and how about a job while they were in school too so they can learn the concept of “no free lunches.”  That may have helped cut down on the debt they have when they graduated plus given them a concept of self worth.

Do I sound a bit agitated by this “entitlement” mentality they are demonstrating.  Sure I am!  I think I know a thing about happiness.  Like anything else, it takes work, something unfortunately many of our new grads are finding hard to come by.  Now before you think I am being “insensitive” (man is that word is starting to Frizz me) I do feel bad for the guys and gals who are stuggling in these hard times.  But on the other hand, a lot of that is self inflicted and we all know it.  Nobody forced anybody to take out $400,000 to go to school.  That is irresponsible.  And while I am at it, nobody starts at the top.  I didn’t, and probably you didn’t either.  Now with that said, let’s do the best we can to help them, and each other while we are at it, stay happy.  Til’ Then!

SUPER BOWL Blvd. Times Square, NY 2014

photoYou have to love New York’s finest.  These two, of the thousands of men and women in “Blue,” were the greatest.  The Officer on the left was actually the one who said “hey, how about “wezze” get a picture of me in the cowboy hat, capuche?”  Why yes Sir was all I could blurt out and Bada-Bing, Bada-Boom, there “you’ze” have it.  They speak such beautiful English!

Seriously, my hat’s off for the unbelieveable job that  all of the first responders did to keep America safe on the biggest sports day of the year.  And…that picture say’s it all, New York-New York…it’s my kind of town!

Polar Plunge February 8, 2014, Virginia Beach, VA

This is a pic from the 2013 plunge with my new best buddy.  I never could figure out if he was a Mexican wrestler or a pinata!  Anyway, it is a ball and everyone gets chilly when they take a dip in the 2nd biggest swimming pool in the world right off of our shores.  Please consider a modest pledge of $5 or $10 all to benifit Special Olympics.  Here is the link to donate.   I sincerely appeciate your consideration and if you’re in town on the 8th, come on in the waters fine!   Gus



Chapel Hill, NC January 8, 2014

Siena Hotel, Chapel Hill, NC

Siena Hotel, Chapel Hill, NC

Doesn’t this look like something out of one of those Russian ice festivals?  Absolutely beautiful view at the beautiful Siena hotel where I stay when in CH.   This is the fountain right out the front that was flowing like it was July 4th on Sunday afternoon but got caught in mid flow when the temp dropped Sunday night.  This isn’t a big deal, just a wild frost bite from Ol’ Man Winter to  kick off 2014.  Hope you are all warm somewhere!

2013 Twelve Days of Christmas World Tour — Part 1


My annual Holiday trip visiting family and friends.  It was both “joyful and triumphant.”  Ya’ gotta’ love that line from “The Grinch.”  It was literally over the river, through the woods and SNOW this year.  I left Virginia Beach on 12/22/13 and got back on New Years Day tired, broke and spent but thrilled to again realize how lucky I am to be surrounded by people that I love.

We  tell each other the same lies we have for 40 years, we watch tons of football, we stay up too late and they throw me out in the AM.  Sometimes literally.  I head down the road for the next victim and on and on.  It is killer fun and when I get home I sleep for two days.  Here are some pics from the first days of the tour.  The paparazzi took them.

In brief, Sunday, Elkins, WV at the Patellas’.   Diane was sweetheart of the fraternity Chris and I belonged to at West Virginia Wesleyan.  We were in each other’s weddings and their daughter is an angel.  She told me to pipe down on the snoring.  Young whipper snapper!  Dr. Miller was my best pal from High school in Buckhannon, WV where this pic was taken.  He is still my dentist and he made my teeth all pearly white for my tour so I could be pretty.  Well, he did his best. We were in each other’s wedding too. Fortunately theirs lasted longer than mine.  Rodney and Chris McGee were more HS friends.  I ran into Rodney in Buckhannon for lunch.  He ended up needing a ride to Dayton, OH to pick up a car… right where I was going.  What are the odds of that?  He was a terrible co-pilot however as we got lost in a Taco Bell drive- through and ended up across the border.   Next, the nicest couple in the world, the Callahans’.  She was also a fraternity sweetheart and his nickname is Harpo…go figure.  They live in Pt. Marion, PA where he is the grand poobah.

Last, my two nephews when we were out  “water-holing” in Indianapolis the day after Christmas.  Nathan is the new Dad I blogged about earlier and Joel allowed me to stay with him in his new house during my four days there.  He said I snored too so I stole his Christmas leftover sandwiches for the drive.  That ill’ teach him.

More later.

Harper Leigh Godsey born December 9, 2013

IMG_0532 (2)Meg-Nat-Baby 12-9-13A little baby girl was born to my nephew Nathan (Skeeter) and Megan Godsey on Tuesday AM in Indianapolis, IN.  He is the oldest son of my brother PJ.  It is the first grandchild in our family and everyone is thrilled.  I am going to visit over the holidays so I am pumped up.  I tell ya’ look at the mitts on this kid?  She will be a natural in the ring, and if the boys ever get fresh…she’ll give em’ so many left’s they’ll be beggin for a right!

To the right are the proud parents just moments after the birth.  Nathan’s nickname is “Skeeter.”  When he was born Nathanial, his Dad said he would go by Nathan.  I was sitting there with my best buddy from HS Dale Zopp.  I said “I think I’ll just call him Nat.”  Dale didn’t miss a beat and responded  with “Nat, heck if you’re going that far let’s just call him Skeeter.”  True story and the name stuck.  By the way, Skeeter is the name of the Fox in my new children’s book “How Scooter Gets His Tail Back.”

Volunteering at Durham Foodbank

What a great time!  I like to have as much fun as anyone (too much Mama used to say) but there is nothing more enriching than volunteering, making a difference, doing something that lasts a bit beyond our instant gratification world.  This was with a great group at the Durham, NC Foodbank on a day where you could cook biscuts on a flatbed.  It was a smoker!  We sorted potatoes, canned goods and jars.  We cleaned floors and rooms…and sweated.  We loved every minute of it.  Later that night, the steak was a bit juicer, the beer a bit colder, and the love of our fellow man a bit more real.MS Durham Foodbank pic 7-13

Halloween is right around the corner

Since Halloween is only weeks away what could be more scary than clowns,with the exception of the knuckleheads in Washington.  I don’t mean the Redskins.

Clowns were always kind of creepy to me, even BOZO.  Who reminds me of a lot of my friends…but that’s another story.This was a great party a few years back with my former wife Judi Godsey.I thought for sure we were in the winners circle.  We didn’t even make the finals.  What is up with that?

Clowns, great last minute costumes, cheap and easy to do and good for several years.  Happy Halloween!


With “Blue II” The Butler University Bulldog

It was a sad day on August 31, 2013.  Arguably the most famous mascot in college basketball history, “Blue II,” went on to thatGus & Butler Bulldog  Dec,2012 great “bone-house” in the sky.  Butler University, enrollment 4,500 out of Indianapolis, IN went to back to back National Championship basketball games in 2010 and again in 2011 losing to B-Ball giants, Duke (by a bucket), and then U-Conn.  He was loved by millions across the nation as he raced across the courts rawhide bone firmly planted in his lovable face leading his teams on to victory.

This picture was taken over Christmas 2012 at Hinkle Fieldhouse as I visited family that lives in Indy.  My nephew “Skeeter” is one of the Sports Marketing Directors for the school and took this picture right before tipoff at the “pre-game festivities.”  Blue was a ROCK STAR.  Crowds mobbed him, men envied him, and the chicks, “forgetaboutit.”  They were as star struck in his presence as teeny-boppers at an Elvis concert.  It is not hard to see why.  With his chiseled good looks, sports star physic, and the ever present Dean Martin “Cool,” he was “The Man.”   Fortunately, Blue is survived by BLUE III that will be know as “Trips.” He took over mascot duties this past March.   You bet I will get a picture with him when I go home to Indiana for the holidays and hopefully a date with some of his hanger-oners.

President Bush Inauguration 2004

President Bush -- Inauguration 2004 With our former President during inauguration festivities in 2005. Of course this was a cutout but I did get to meet him at the White House when I was invited to his Daughter’s wedding reception. I am not name dropping but wow, a beyond cool time, hangin’ with the big dogs!  Forget about politics.  President Bush and First Lady Barbara were the nicest, most humble and gracious folks you could ever meet.

Gallery 5

Gallery 4

Gallery 3

Gallery 2

Gallery 1

Polar Plunge

Just ready to take a dip in the second biggest swimming pool in the world. This was in Virginia Beach, winter 2013, the annual “Polar Plunge” benefiting the Special Olympics. I was on the Sons of Italy Roma Lodge Team #254 from here at the beach. This pic is with my new best palie that happened to be taking the plunge himself. He was a Mexican Wrestler or a piñata, I could never tell. Now let me tell you, they say the freaks come out at night, well there are plenty that come out in broad daylight at this gig. Everyone has more fun than a little bit. Together we raised over 1.2 million for the cause. I’ll see you on February 8, 2014 on the beach.


Ashville Tourists Baseball July 2013

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One of the oldest baseball parks in America, McCormick Field in Asheville, NC built in 1924. They filmed the movie “Bull Durham” here. The team started in 1897 as the “Carolina Moonshiners.” This was at a special promotional night called “Thirsty Thursday.” If you need to ask, don’t. I had to get a picture with the team mascots. Wow, that was a fun evening at the old ballpark.

Red Cross Fashion Show


I was following “Rudy Bosch” the oldest guy on the first TV show of “Survivor” when he finished third at the age of 72. He is a retired Navy Seal and an American hero. We were doing a fashion show a few years back for the American Red Cross in Portsmouth, VA. Rudy would get mobbed when he went out. He was a star and a good guy.

College Graduation with Nathan “Skeeter” Godsey 2008

IMG_0779 Sitting with my nephew “Skeeter” in Indianapolis right after he graduated from college in 2008.  He, along with his older sister Harmony and younger brother Joel, are great nephews and nieces.  They would always come to the beach, multi friends in tow, for Spring break each year.  Kinda’ made me want to go back to college.


Suffolk News-Herald: Happiness, It’s a choice

Happiness: It’s a choice

You may have heard of the “Happiest Man in America.” Now, he has a show on local talk radio.

By Tracy Agnew (Contact) | Suffolk News-Herald

Published Saturday, June 13, 2009

You may have heard of the “Happiest Man in America.” Now, he has a show on local talk radio.

James Paul “Gus” Godsey is the host of “The J.P. Godsey Show” on WPMH 670 AM radio out of Chesapeake. The show is heard from 4 to 6 p.m. every Monday through Friday.

For 10 hours each week, Godsey hosts a variety of guests, including political candidates, entertainers, sports celebrities, military veterans and more.

The convivial radio host earned the title of “The Happiest Man in America” from USA Weekend magazine in 2003. Since the magazine has not done the study again in the last six years, Godsey, age 50, still claims the title — and he’s still happy.

“You expect less and give more,” Godsey said during a commercial break in his show last week. Godsey earned the Happiest Man title by scoring in the highest percentile in America on several self-assessment tests — you can take them yourself at www.authentichappiness.com. His score was so far off the charts that he was made to take the test three times.

Preparing for the show last week, Godsey was clearly crunched for time — but he wasn’t stressed out. At 3:55 p.m., he was frenetically typing an outline for the two-hour program, but he still found time to joke with his staff and guests.

Wearing jeans, a pink T-shirt and cowboy boots that knocked on the tile floor of the studio with every step, Godsey rushed around with a smile on his face preparing for the show.

“Twenty seconds,” called one of his staff.

Godsey hit the print button on his computer and waited for his outline, calling out last-minute instructions to his two staff members and his first guest for the show.

When the intro music began and the printer still hadn’t spit out his outline, Godsey didn’t despair — he simply went to the microphone and started the show, while a staffer tried to fix the printer.

After a few seconds of small talk, Godsey just couldn’t bear it anymore.

“I’m lost without my outline,” he declared on air, asking his staffer (still on air) what was wrong with the printer.

To an observer in the studio or a listener in his car, the exchange might have seemed comical. But that’s just what makes Godsey the Happiest Man in America.

For many years, Godsey was a stockbroker with a Virginia Beach firm, but got out of the business several years ago. He felt “hypocritical,” he said, like he “was living kind of a façade.”

“I think it’s best that I got out of the business,” he said. “I was in the fortunate situation where somebody offered me a new job doing my radio show full-time.”

The gregarious Godsey jumped at the chance, and is now able to share his happiness with others through his radio show.

The secrets to happiness? Godsey says they aren’t really secret. He attributes most of his happiness to his faith in God.

“I am a Christian,” he said. “I do believe in a higher power. I’m sure the good Lord shakes His head at me may times.”

Also among the keys to happiness: count your blessings, say prayers, do something unexpectedly nice for someone else, apologize when you’ve wronged someone else, make a conscious choice each day to have a good day, make to-do lists, smile, exercise and “control the controllables.”

Godsey says it doesn’t matter when you count your blessings or pray – just do it.

“I say my morning prayers, nine times out of 10, with toothpaste running down my face,” he said.

Godsey also tells himself every morning that he’s going to have a good day.

“I make a choice immediately about what kind of day it’s going to be,” he said.

Godsey’s happiness doesn’t mean that he’s right most of the time, though – on the contrary, he admits that he’s probably wrong more than he’s right.

“I am very adamant about forgiveness,” he said. “Maybe it’s because I screw up a lot.”

Godsey said he doesn’t understand people who are afraid to say they’re wrong — or actually think that they are never wrong.

“I think when I’m wrong, I try to quickly and emphatically admit that I’m wrong and apologize sincerely to the person that I might have offended,” he said. “But I only apologize once. In God’s eyes, when you apologize and somebody accepts the apology, it’s supposed to be put in the past.”

Trying to do something nice for someone every day also is key for Godsey. It can be something as small as writing a note of encouragement, helping someone with his groceries or even just returning the shopping cart to the corral.

“It makes you feel good, and it makes them feel good,” he said.

Controlling the “controllables” also is important, Godsey says.

“I make a choice,” he said. “If I’m poor or I’m tight on money, I control that it’s probably not smart to go out and buy filet mignon and a new car.”

Godsey might know a little bit about being tight on money. He currently is in the midst of trying to refinance his Virginia Beach home to avoid foreclosure.

“I’ve just accepted it,” Godsey said. “It’s just bricks and mortar. I love the house, it’s on the water, but it’s just a house.”

Enjoying friends and family to the fullest also makes for true happiness, as well as not living in the past and regretting past decisions.

One last tip from Godsey — be grateful for the blessings you have.

“I am very grateful for the blessings that I have,” he said. “I drive a ’99 F-150 that just lost the air conditioning, but I drive past a lot of people waiting for the bus.”

The Virginian-Pilot: ‘Daily Show’ satire can’t shake the happiest man

By John Warren

Jon Stewart’s posse of satirical clowns wasn’t enough to turn J.P. Godsey’s world-renowned smile upside down. They gave it a good try, though.

Godsey – the “Happiest Man in America”  and author of “How to be Happy Every Day” – appeared this week on the tongue-in-cheek current events Program, “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

The late-night Comedy Central show flew Godsey to New York in June and taped him – for 3 hours and 55 minutes’ Godsey said Friday – talking about volunteerism, giving back, glass-is-half-full thinking.

Less than three minutes of the conversation made the cut’ The show aired Wednesday. Godsey talks about reclaiming the word “gay” to its original meaning – happy”. I want to take gay back,” he said.

That made the show.

Correspondent Jason Jones pounced on Godsey’s  mispronunciation of “Darfur.” “I hate to be portrayed as an idiot,” Godsey said. “I talked about simple Pleasures in life, like chasing an ice cream truck, and that’s all they put in.”

Godsey, 50, has done the national TV circuit before. After being voted Happiest Man in America by USA Weekend magazine in 2003, t he Beach stockbroker appeared on ABC and CNN.

This time, the editor’s cuts were less kind. Godsey said he has received hate mail.

“It was a goof, a laugh,” said Godsey. “I was surprised so many people took it so seriously.”

Godsey played along for the segment, carrying a small cache of smiley-face balloons in one vignette.

Will he be more wary next time a TV Producer calls?

“My shoulders are Pretty broad,” he said Friday. ” I f you’re in the spotlight, You have to be able to take the blows.”

The Virginian-Pilot’s Beacon: Happiest Man on the Daily Show

J.P. “Gus” Godsey of Virginia Beach, proclaimed the Happiest Man in America by USA Weekend magazine in 2003, is scheduled to appear on “The Daily Show With John Stewart” at 11 tonight. The interview was taped in New York in June and features Jason Jones, a Daily Show correspondent, talking to Godsey about how he can maintain his happiness when a surprising  number of Americans say they are not content with the country’s direction. Godsey said the taping with Jones lasted a few hours, and he enjoyed bantering with him, but he wasn’t moved off of the position that the country is, indeed, moving in the right direction. There will always be bumps in the road, Godsey said he told Jones, but contrary to any polls, we’ve been moving in the right direction since 1776.  Godsey, a vice president of investments with Ferris. Baker Watts Inc.. is the author of “How to Be Happy Every Day,” runs thewww.MrHappyUSA.com  Web site and hosts the “J.P. Godsey Show” from 4 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays on WPMH-AM 670.
– Dan Duke, The Pilot

The Virginian-Pilot: Whatever happened to the happiest man in America?

JPwhereruThe Virginian-Pilot

© March 14, 2005

What’s not to be giddy about? He still lives in a great waterfront house. He’s still a financial adviser at a firm a few blocks from home.

He now hosts a local radio show, “Happy Talk, ” every Wednesday evening on WPMH AM 670 . He has a Web site, www.MrHappyUSA.com , where he sells T-shirts and Mr. Happy hats. He pens a column, “Happy Talk ,” for a couple of publications. He has an agent and a publicist.

And on April 1 (he likes the irony), Godsey has a book coming out. A real one, paid for by a publisher, titled “How to be Happy Everyday .”

“It made me go back and take a look at myself,” he said, “and why I got picked for happiest guy in the first place.”

It has been two years since USA Weekend magazine sifted through some statistics and decided that the happiest guy had to come from Virginia Beach, a city that was then rated the best place in America to live.

The rest was a little less scientific, but the bottom line was that the writer was given Godsey’s name and, after a short conversation, realized that this guy was perfect.

Godsey, 47 , aced some psychological tests and was awarded the crown.

“It’s been a heck of a ride, man,” he says.

All is not glee in Godsey’s world. He never got his chance to goof with idol David Letterman .

Godsey was in a cab heading for the studio when Letterman got sick and the appearance was canceled. And Godsey is separated from his wife.

He prefers to keep the details private but now lives alone in that sunny house.

Control the things you can, he notes, and make the best of the rest.

Is he still the happiest guy in the country? Who knows. The magazine never did a follow-up, so Godsey didn’t have to surrender his title.

The Best Places folks have moved on to other towns, replacing Virginia Beach as the perfect location. And being single is a statistically miserable place to be.

Just don’t try selling that sad song to Godsey . His life’s sound track is a more soothing cut of nonstop country love songs and The Mills Brothers’ crooning.

Fame is supposed to last only 15 minutes. Happiness, he believes, can be eternal.

The Happiest Guy

by Dennis McCafferty, USA Weekend Magazine©March 9, 2003

usaweekendcoverHe scored off the chart on every objective measurement we tested. Yet the emerging science of contentment suggests practical ways Gus Godsey — and anyone reading this article — could be even happier.

As Charlie Brown and the “Peanuts” gang told us, happiness could be a warm puppy, pizza with sausage, five different crayons — or anyone, or anything, that’s loved by you. And, although it’s true that many special moments are inspired by such happenstance, scientific research contends that people actually can condition themselves for genuine happiness, much as occasional joggers condition themselves for marathons. Truly happy people are able to, for example, recall special moments and use them as psychological tools to deal with adversity. And that’s just one of many skills they tap into to ensure a high level of satisfaction in their lives.

So why is this important? Because it’s clear that happiness is a key contributor to our overall personal health — it’s even been linked to longevity, scientific studies show.

With that in mind, USA WEEKEND Magazine hatched what we’ll call the Ultimate Happiness Challenge: Why not pair the world’s leading authority on happiness with America’s happiest person and see if our expert can make him even happier? Or, on a more scientific level: How can the leading expert apply his core principles to boost the happiness quotient for someone who’s already as happy as a person gets? With this exercise, we explore the happiest man’s state of contentedness and, as a result, discover ways we all can better cultivate happiness in our lives.

Our happiness authority is a clear choice: Martin E.P. Seligman, 60, the author of 20 books, including the new “Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment” (Free Press, $26). Seligman is a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania who has spent his 40-year career researching the emotional and mental makeup of happy, optimistic people, as well as of those who are depressed and pessimistic.

Among the many theories he promotes: Those who are best at understanding their “signature strengths” — such as a sense of humor or the capacity to love — and learn how to use them every day, in all kinds of situations, often end up the happiest. (For more on Seligman and his new book, visit authentichappiness.org.)

As for our happiest person in America, J.P. “Gus” Godsey, 45, he’s a story in himself. (See “Our Search for Perfection”) On a recent sunny day in Virginia Beach, Va., we sat down with Godsey and Seligman to see how the happiest guy — and everyone else — can become even happier.

Principle #1: Everyone benefits
The concept: Authentically happy people negotiate life by stressing an “everybody wins” strategy, as opposed to focusing on threats or other negative possibilities.

Godsey: That’s true. Being a jerk never got me positive results. When I get bad service at a restaurant, I don’t like to make a scene. I try to get the manager and say, “Hey, I love this place and want to keep coming, but …” With that approach, you can even get a free meal when you come back.

Now, this usually works, but not always. I essentially shoulder the fund-raising load for many of my charitable pursuits; it really takes a lot of time and effort. My goal is to build up an endowment so we can help, say, homeless people forever just through the interest. But the donor giving me $5,000 is getting angry at me, saying he wants it spent right now to buy coats for people on the street. I try to tell him that this will make us feel good for now, but it has no lasting value. And, quite frankly, this kind of conversation can get testy.

Seligman: Abraham Lincoln was great at dealing with tense situations with a dose of humor. A good quip or a story can defuse a potentially unpleasant exchange. You may want to apply your great sense of humor — which is a terrific signature strength — in these conversations with donors. First, disarm them with your humor and diminish the danger of things getting testy, then proceed with the “everybody wins” approach to convince them that the funds should support the endowment. They will be more receptive if you put them in a good mood first. Authentically happy people often use one signature strength to set up the use of another.

Principle #2: Savoring success
The concept: Authentically happy people not only savor good moments and successes but also tap into those in the past to help them deal with problems in the present.

Godsey: That brings to mind something that happened when I went back to my hometown 10 years ago. I was with a buddy getting ready to have some pizza and beer, and a guy I grew up with approached me. This guy always wanted to fight me when we were kids. He says, “Gus, you’re still a jerk, and I can still beat you up.” Now, my pal is wondering what the heck is going to happen. But I just told the guy, “Hey, man, we haven’t seen each other in 20 years. These things don’t matter anymore. Remember how much you liked my older brother? He still asks about you and wonders how you’re doing.” He never liked me, but he really dug my brother. It immediately put him in a better disposition. He had been ready to fight, and we ended up shaking hands. My buddy was amazed.

Seligman: Wow! I’m impressed. There was really no better way to handle that situation. All I can do is encourage you to continue thinking of ways to recall positive moments from the past to deal with difficult situations in the present. In situations like this, authentically happy people take a moment to think about things that really went well. When people say they’re dreading a situation they think will be stressful, I tell them to recall three things that have gone well lately and — this is key here — why they happened, and write them down. If the situation is work-related, I tell them to do that before they go into the office that day. If people get their confidence up, their repertoire expands to deal with the situation.

Principle #3: Social intelligence
The concept: Authentically happy people know which strengths to use and which to avoid with a particular person or situation.

Godsey: I had a real problem with this recently. I hurt a good friend’s feelings, and I didn’t mean to. He had done a report for his office and wanted me to take a look at it before submitting it. I thought the report had some problems, so, in attempting to cushion my thoughts, I tried to use a little humor. I left a message on his answering machine that he should not only not submit the report, he should burn every copy of it and start over. Well, the whole thing backfired. What I didn’t know was that this was a really sore spot for him. He had been going through a lot of grief with this report, and he was just seeking some reassurance. He got really angry. I apologized and asked for his forgiveness, but I don’t think we’re over the hump yet.

Seligman: Intriguing. Usually, you’re very strong in using your social intelligence. It’s a key signature strength for you. But you misplayed your hand this time because you weren’t aware of what your friend had been through. Usually humor works, but this time it didn’t. Signature strengths can be used like tools — but a fellow doesn’t pull out a hammer when he needs to drill a hole, does he? In this kind of situation, I often encourage people to use gratitude as a signature strength tool. I tell them to think of something helpful or kind that a friend did for them, and to stress that the next time they talk to the friend to repair the damage. So, Gus, consider telling him, “How could I possibly want to hurt you after all you did for me? I value our friendship far too much to want to hurt you in any way.” This is a good way to earn forgiveness and restore a relationship that brings happiness.

Principle #4: Opening doors
The concept: Authentically happy people find open doors when others close.

Godsey: This is my philosophy. In my first job out of college, I ran a nightclub in Myrtle Beach, S.C. I did really well and worked really hard. I got Mickey Mantle to come to the club to get people talking about it, to make it a hot spot. My roommate at the time was African American, and I wasn’t about to exclude minorities from coming to the club. Some of the owners didn’t like this, and I got fired. But one owner liked me and admired the stand I took. His dad ended up running for political office; that owner put in a good word for me, and I became his dad’s campaign manager.

Seligman: That’s terrific. You stood up for your values, suffered a defeat, disengaged from the situation and then found something better. Often something good comes out of something bad. People like you maintain an optimism that opens doors. In your case, you didn’t stay in bed, paralyzed by this career setback; you did something about it. Now that you’re a stockbroker, you know that Wall Street shuts doors and opens them — many times in a single day. The immediate reaction to a sharp drop in the Dow is one of panic. But that drop often leads to an opportunity to buy a stock that turns out to be a bargain. People who maintain this perspective often bounce back quickly from disappointments.

Principle #5: Couple strengths
The concept: Authentically happy people enhance their romantic relationships by joining both partners’ personal strengths.

Godsey: I’m usually good at this with my wife, but sometimes I’m not so good. I’m a big planner, and she’s really into beauty. This works great when we’re dealing with our gardening. I’m always coming up with the game plan — what kind of flowers and vegetables we’re going to plant, and what kind of pasta sauces and salsas I’m going to make with the tomatoes. She’s really good at displaying the flowers in remarkable arrangements that make the house look elegant. But I admit it isn’t always something we actually put any thought into. How else can we combine our strengths to make life more enjoyable?

Seligman: I always advise couples to combine their strengths when it comes to a big vacation they’re planning. Sometimes a vacation can put a couple at odds with each other: The husband might want a spring-training tour in Florida, while the wife would prefer a week of theater in New York. But instead of being at odds, couples can work together. In your case, you and your wife can combine your strengths to go to, say, Alaska, on a cruise for a week. You can use your planning strengths to find the best tour package and pick out the excursions, and you can use your capacity to love to make instant friends on the ship. Your wife can bring her strengths to the package by guiding you toward Alaska’s natural splendors.

Principle #6: Finding meaning
The concept: Authentically happy people leave a legacy.

Godsey: This is my passion, something I devote so much of my energies to. My charitable efforts are geared toward helping the needy, sheltering the homeless and improving literacy among at-risk kids. It’s important not only to make a difference now, but to leave a lasting endowment that will continue to help people long after I’m gone. My favorite quote is from William James — the big-time Harvard psychologist and philosopher — who said, “The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.” That’s the underlying spirit behind my thinking. Usually I can convince the donors that my strategy will do the most good for the longest time. When that sort of difference is made, it really brings me a great sense of happiness.

Seligman: I can’t say anything that can improve that kind of situation. Many people wake up every morning with a gnawing fear that they’re fidgeting until they die, that they’ll never establish a legacy. You are a blessed, happy person, Gus. But you’ve created many of your blessings on your own, and you’ll keep doing so in the future. That’s what authentically happy people do.

“It’s important to leave a lasting endowment that will continue to help people long after I’m gone,” says Gus Godsey, left, with psychologist Martin E.P. Seligman.

Our search for perfection

So how, exactly, did we find the most happy fella, anyway?

It was a combination of science, sleuthing and surveys. Then came a battery of tests and subjective analysis — the latter of which can be clinically described as the “Does He Have It?” criteria.

First, to find the happiest person, we had to find the best place to live. So we connected with Bert Sperling, the leading authority on the best places in America. He has crunched the data since 1985 and runs Portland, Ore.-based Sperling’s BestPlaces (www.bestplaces.net). After inputting statistics for thousands of towns nationwide that track quality-of-life issues such as public safety, affordability of homes, healthy environment, income and education, Sperling found that the city of Virginia Beach, Va., was the hands-down winner.

Next, we had to find the happiest person there. We knew it had to be a guy: Even though women have been shown to have higher emotional highs, they also have lower lows. Men maintain a more consistent blend of happiness. We scouted out dozens of men in Virginia Beach who, by all accounts, were the happiest guys in town.

We then gathered all kinds of factoids that research institutions — both academic and consumer — say lead to a high level of personal satisfaction. We compiled those factors into a survey and had our top 20 candidates mark those that related to their lives.

Our happiest guy, J.P. “Gus” Godsey, connected here perfectly: He’s a married dad who’s healthy. He has a good, dependable job as a stockbroker with Ferris, Baker, Watts Inc. and has no extraordinary financial concerns. He’s active in his community and incredibly social. He digs the Green Bay Packers, Dell computers, Coca-Cola and Craftsman tools, all of which score high in fan/consumer satisfaction surveys, according to the market research firm Harris Interactive. His nearly 2,300-square-foot house features virtually all of the items that highly satisfied homeowners have, according to the National Association of Home Builders, a Washington-based industry association: an eat-in kitchen, 9-foot ceilings, a deck and an office.

As for the “Does He Have It?” factor, the gregarious Godsey was a no-brainer choice: He comes off as 10 gallons of happiness in a 5-gallon bag, happy in that big, genuine Southern way.

But we weren’t finished yet. We had him take four tests on psychologist Martin E.P. Seligman’s Web site, authentichappiness.org. (You can take them, too; register at the site and take the Fordyce, PANAS, General Happiness and Life Satisfaction tests.) Naturally, Godsey aced them. Finally, he took Seligman’s Values in Action Signature Strengths test, which tracks the human makeup that directly correlates to happiness. His overall score ranked at the very top among the 70,000 people worldwide who have taken the test.

With that, we knew we had found our happiest guy.

— D.M.

Our resident medical expert’s take on happiness 
By Tedd Mitchell, M.D.

In the preceding story, you met an expert on happiness. Although I certainly don’t claim to be one, I do have some observations and opinions from my life experiences and clinical background. (Have you ever met a doctor who doesn’t have an opinion on something related to medicine?) Here’s what I’ve learned about happiness:

Others can’t define it for you. Advice from parents and peers can be helpful, but it’s up to you to choose what will make you happy. Making serious choices based solely on what others think usually leads to regret. Choosing whether to enter a family business, whom to marry, what career to pick and where to live are decisions you must make for yourself. I see many patients who appear to be successful but actually are miserable. It’s your life, so make your choices accordingly.

You can’t buy it. Our popular culture bombards us with images of what many think should make us happy. Get rich! Get skinny! Get popular! Unfortunately, people who buy into this way of thinking are setting themselves up for disappointment. Some of the unhappiest patients I see have their pictures all over the society page in the paper.

It isn’t a spectator sport. I often write about developing habits for fitness, and I believe the same is true for happiness. Developing daily habits that involve enjoyable work and meaningful connections to others leads to a sense of self-worth. Happiness is a natural byproduct that’s acquired gradually; it’s not something you achieve by artificial means at the end of your life. Make every day count.

I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t for my patients — and for me. The bottom line is that no one can give you happiness; you have to find it on your own. And although that’s not always easy, it’s what makes life worth living.

Image by Katherine Lambert for USA WEEKEND

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.

Beach man named nation’s happiest

JP4By JASON SKOG, The Virginian-Pilot © March 3, 2003

VIRGINIA BEACH — Who’s the happiest man in America?
He’s not rich or powerful, so scratch Bill Gates and President Bush. And he’s not a famous movie or rock star, so forget Tom Cruise and Bruce Springsteen.

According to the March 7-9 cover story of “USA Weekend” magazine, a Sunday supplement in almost 600 newspapers, the nation’s happiest guy is a 45-year-old Virginia Beach stockbroker, J.P. “Gus” Godsey.

Godsey will be introduced early today on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and he’s, well, happy.

“It’s real cool,” Godsey said. “I didn’t realize how big this was going to be.”

Since word of the recognition leaked, he’s had inquiries for national TV interviews. And there’s been talk of appearances with Regis, Oprah and Letterman.

Godsey’s grin is nearly as broad as his shoulders. When he speaks, words tumble out in rambling, overflowing tones that are full, raspy and fast. He can hardly contain himself.

“I’m not going to believe all the hype,” Godsey said, “but I do know if there are happier people, I haven’t met many of them.”

Godsey earned the distinction based on studies that suggest that volunteer work and civic involvement contribute to a person’s happiness. Virginia Beach’s quality of life also helped the magazine pick Godsey.

“It was a combination of science, sleuthing and surveys,” the “USA Weekend” story reads.

The magazine set out to find the happiest man in Virginia Beach and Godsey’s name continued to come up. After some initial interviews, he was subjected to a battery of psychological and emotional tests — five in all — measuring his level of contentment.

Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman, author of “Authentic Happiness,” and a University of Pennsylvania professor, spent a day in Virginia Beach administered some of the tests.

Seligman divides happiness into three types: the pleasant life, the good life and the meaningful life.

“He did great in all three and actually was off the scale in the second one. He’s real unusual,” Seligman said.

Godsey is a member of the city’s Human Rights Commission, founder of local Thanksgiving and holiday food and toy drives, past chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia Beach and a coordinator of benefit concerts.

He and his wife, Judi, have a son, Jeremy, 23; and a daughter, Jessica, 20. The couple lives on a 1 1/4 -acre lot along the Lynnhaven Inlet in the Wolfsnare Plantation neighborhood.

“Not only is Mr. Godsey a very amiable, pleasant person,” said Mayor Meyera E. Oberndorf, “he is a perfect example of the young people we want to return to our city to establish their lives and families and their careers.”

Lynda Filipiak-Wilchynski, Godsey’s sales assistant at Ferris, Baker Watts Inc., a regional brokerage house based in Washington, said her boss’s good humor is contagious.

“Everything is cool, everything is smooth with J.P.,” she said.

Godsey said the key to happiness is simple.

“We wake up every morning full of choices,” he said. “And your state of happiness is something you can do every single day. How are you going to make your day this morning? And we only have today. God never promised us tomorrow.”

Do the faltering economy, threats of terrorism and a looming war make this a difficult time to be happy?

“No. Absolutely not,” he said. “Because I cannot control those things.. . . Why focus on something I can’t control or that will bring me down?”

Reach Jason Skog at jskog@pilotonline.com or 757-222-5113.