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

20 Comments on “Calaughornia”

  1. Gorgeous photos accompanying uplifting words, Beth. Golden indeed.

    “You can only be generous to others, when your basic needs are met.” YES! As the French aristocracy learned the hard way (and the American uber-Capitalists most undoubtedly will, I pray), you can’t ignore the basic needs of the populace forever.

    From one progressive heart to another,
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are such a comfort, Madelyn.

      People have to help other people. I was listening to Joe Kennedy III last night and he was genuinely shocked to hear Speaker Ryan say something like “well people are having to pay for sick people”. Yes, that’s who we are as Americans.

      And, as Colbert reminded us: that’s called “insurance”. All insurance is based on that principle.

      In California, the system helps everyone and the most fit, create, sustain and improve the system, again, for everyone.

      That is who we used to be as a nation. I tremble for people with what’s coming.

      Hugs, Madelyn


      • There but for the grace of God go any one of us – that’s empathy in a nutshell. What ever happened to empathy in this country? I have no answer.

        The insurance explanation is an excellent one. We all pay to educate children, too – whether we have them or not. That’s what we DO if we want to live in a country with an educated populace.

        It’s blatant when that argument is framed as “single people are having to pay for the choices of breeders” – SICK as well as selfish, and extremely short-sighted.

        I don’t know Beth – the world is rapidly losing it’s collective mind. America’s current administration seems intent on leading the way, aided and abetted by cowardly, self-focused politicians. I don’t know what it will take for them to wake up and find their back bones, but I hope it happens soon.

        I’m reminded of the frog in warm water story. Are they, like the frog, so inured to the increasing heat that they will allow us all to be boiled to death rather jumping out to save themselves, turning off the heat to save the rest of us?

        VERY scary times when a madman is allowed to take the reigns – and I do think his actions show that sanity is not on board.

        Liked by 1 person

        • What else could it be but insanity? He is a disturbed individual and has gotten away with it because he inherited a fortune, hundreds of millions of dollars. He has spent his whole life scheming for and squandering both time and money. What has he ever done that would convince people he cares about helping them? He is only about himself and those who flatter him and make him look good.

          As for the Republicans in Congress, exactly as you said: cowardly and self-focused. Only interested in being kept on the feedbag. Allowing our government to be destroyed, systematically by bad actors.

          It is hard not to despair.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Impossible to avoid despair on some days, Beth – at least for me. I worry most for the young, comforted only slightly that I won’t have to deal with the consequences for as many years myself.

            I don’t know how so many Americans bought into his reputation as a good businessman – there are no do-overs if you bankrupt a country like you did your businesses. Obviously, he listens to advice from NO ONE, so we’re stuck with what he already believes. ::gloom::

            Liked by 1 person

            • You know why these people bought his line of pretend success, built on inherited wealth and stealing from people? Because simple lies are easier to grasp and believe than complex truths. Hillary was talking in complexities and nuance that these people apparently couldn’t or didn’t want to understand. That Man spoke in black and white exaggerations and promised them what they wanted.

              It was almost like Mary Poppins’ magic syrup that tasted like whatever you wanted it to taste like. People projected their needs and desires on this person. Wait until it sinks in that he lied and robbed them instead.

              I feel very sorry for them, as many of them were at the brink of hopelessness. Now they will lose even more.

              It was so unnecessary.

              Liked by 2 people

            • Unnecessary and cruel – and now we ALL must deal with their lack of thinking before they cast their ballots.

              I think Hillary’s polite “high road” backfired on her, actually. What was needed, every single time, was interrupting to say “That is NOT true, check your facts” – as loud as need be to outshout his lies. Then someone on her staff could have followed up the following day, using news video.

              Repeated “not true” would eventually have sunk in – science-based that people recognize, recall and act upon what they’ve been exposed to many times previously. Ask the marketers.

              Liked by 1 person

        • It is really hard to understand how the Republican leaders, i.e., governors, senators, representatives, etc. can also be so cruel and callous. Hearing Ryan the other day spout his Randian nonsense drove home to me once again that there must be something different either in their DNA or their mothers to raise people so clearly indifferent to suffering in their fellow man.

          You are right, we Democrats failed to drive home the message of fact and truth and mercy. It was our fault too.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Finding fault is only useful to understand what not to do again. The only thing worse that 4 years with a madman would be another 4. We MUST win the seats in the midyear election – as well as the next presidential or there will be little hope for the majority of the American people.

            I don’t know what’s wrong with the current administration – what produced an almost total lack of empathy. Private school education, perhaps, so exposure only to those who are primarily white and wealthy enough to afford it? Or living in wealthy nabes with similar demographics?

            Still, my public High School was stocked with upper-upper middles and I didn’t turn out that way, so perhaps parenting values were missing? Who KNOWS – they are hateful and must GO.

            Liked by 1 person

            • For me, it always goes back to the parenting. Not that all harsh or cold parents produce selfish children who grow up to be like Ryan and That Man, but usually when you find a harsh, hard-hearted person, they had parents who shunned, shamed and/or over-disciplined them. Parental love is all the difference.

              I grew up in an upper middle class environment and my parents, especially my mother, were and are very warm, caring, generous people and constantly admonished me to be that way. It takes that kind of hands-on parenting to produce loving adults. Yours obviously succeeded in instilling empathy and compassion, Madelyn.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Well, they do sound like my parents. My father is the disciplinarian so he was always tougher. But whatever they and their parents did, I turned out to be an open, caring, accepting person. Back to the importance of early childhood, which this administration probably thinks instills weakness. Sad.

              Liked by 1 person

            • And I as well, Beth – but I also hope to open the minds of of as many of their supporters as possible (*especially* those in Congress), so I’m willing to be sooooo careful in how I speak to them.

              Agent Orange listens to no one, clearly, so we need as many people as we can get to listen and VOTE to mitigate, if not overturn the damage he is rushing to inflict now that he’s in office.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with the sentiment that it’s easier to be generous when we have enough. Sadly, the definition of ‘enough’ has changed. Basic needs have become super-rized, so that even those whose basic needs are met (who have plenty) tend to hold onto it – for fear of losing it?

    I have heard so many stories of people who go to extremely poor nations and find the people to be joyful and generous.

    My other comment re difference between east coast and west coast is that weather matters. It’s just easier to be nice when you’re not freezing your buns off 🙂 Mind you, for people like me who suffer from hyperhidrosis, too much heat is no good and makes me miserable (esp heat + humidity). Sigh. Where can I live? Bermuda maybe 🙂

    Looking at your photos Beth makes me want to be there, no matter what!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think you are right about weather mattering Vera. I happen to like the cold but I know a lot of people for whom it is a burden.

      And, I also think we expect too much. I lived in two very poor places while doing graduate work, places outside the USA and the people in both places were so cheerful, managing to be happy with very little.

      For some reason, people in the middle of the country here, not poor, really, just middle class and very white are feeling quite resentful and put-upon these days. If they only knew how lucky they are, we would have a very different country. I am tired of middle class and rich people wanting more all the time. They need to give first and then worry about “more”.



  3. The pictures have me dreaming of a different place to live. We still have snow and icy walkways everyday right now. But the Northern sun is finally shining bright and it’s now light out at 5:00pm. People’s moods are picking up. As someone mentioned earlier, weather does affect happiness levels.
    We are going through some ugly political issues. I live in a place where the word “progressive” leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths, hearts, and minds. Progressive Conservatives is what they call themselves. It’s sad to see people voting for politicians who don’t care about the marginalized, those in need, and the well-being of the people they govern. This reality is enough to make anyone sad, gloomy, bitter.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your heart with us Beth.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It just goes to show that labels are deceptive and vary from country to country and different times. Remember that the Nazis called themselves “social democrats” and were brutal fascists.

    Here, Progressive, means improvements going forward. Caring for the least among us. If Christ were here today and living in the United States, he would be a Progressive.

    Thank YOU for your input. ❤


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