This week's talking point is happiness. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below so that ideas flow more easily when you meet up with your friends and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.
Which of these definitions of happiness do you agree with?
- Happiness is having good friends you can talk to.
- Happiness is feeling you've done your best.
- Happiness is helping other people.
- Happiness is feeling peaceful and safe.
- Happiness is having enough money to buy what you need.
- Happiness is being independent.
What makes you happy?
Do you consider yourself to be generally optimistic or pessimistic? Why?
Do you ever get depressed? If so, what do you do?
Can happiness really be measured?
Is it possible to learn to be happy?
To what extent does personality influence our level of happiness?
Think of a time when you were happy and tell the members of your conversation group about it.
To illustrate the point you can watch the video of Johnny Barnes, Mr Happy Man.
Mr Happy Man
Have a good day, good morning, I love you, I love, I love you…
Have a lovely day...good morning...how are you ?... I love you...
I am just little Johnny Barnes. I'm just a little small instrument in the hand of god to be used anyway he feels fit.
What I do every day, 2 am in the morning I'm getting my breakfast, you are still sleeping, I guess.
From twenty before 4 until 10, I stand on the corner and just greet people, let them know that life is sweet, life is beautiful.
No matter what happens in life. It’s always sweet to be alive.
Enjoy the sunshine, the flowers, the birds, they are happy.
The good lord and I just try to make people happy.
I used to work in the railway. The railway came right through there, you know.
Before they made that a highway, there used to be a wall and I used to sit on wall at lunch hour and shout out to people: I love you - have a good day.
It started way back then when I worked as electrician on the railway. And I enjoyed it. I enjoy making people happy.
....love you, loving you....
I lived in London for a long time. An elderly man standing side of the road and you stop. And I expected for him to ask us for money. That was my initial reaction.
A lot of people couldn't understand why he would do what he`s doing. I mean, why would a person go out there, in the middle of night, in the rain, thunder, the lighting, he is there, with rain suit or umbrella. Whatever he’s has to do to stand there.
A lot of people couldn't figure that out. Why would he do that? And they don’t really understand where he’s coming from. He’s coming from that angle of brotherly-love. And that’s what he’s doing there every single day, brotherly-love to anybody who comes past.
I think he likes me. Because I think he always know when I'm coming, ‘cause he has the whole 360 to cover. It’s like 3 different directions, he manages to always say, "I love you," to me- even if I'm going in town, coming out of town, going past. He always ends up finding my direction and just saying it to me.
I love you…
I've known that people come to work in morning and at quarter past 6 there is no Johnny Barnes. They want to know why; they phone the radio station and say, "Where is Johnny Barnes this morning?"
People expect him to be there Monday thru Friday and when he`s not there, there is a panic, Where is He. Why isn’t he there?
He cares and the rest of people care about him, when they don't see him.
I was 9 months’ pregnant with my son, and he was going to be delivered by c-section, we’re driving to hospital, I did my normal way to Johnny, and he didn't see me. I got really nervous because, your going to have your first baby, and you want everything to be right. So I made my husband drive around the round-about until Johnny Barnes waved. To me that felt like it was a good omen to go to the hospital, so on the second turn-around saw me, waved, told me Loves me, so, I said we can go off to go to the hospital now, ready to have my first son.
There was a morning traveling to the city, it was not a happy morning, and I could see in distance Johnny Barnes, and I had made up my mind I was not going to look, because I wanted to hold onto my unhappy moment, but I ended up looking at him, and sure enough, he forced me to smile and remember that I had a choice for my day to smile and be happy or carry this heavy weight of anger with me. That's what he reminds me of every day, that there is a choice in how we start our day.
A man came to me one time and said, "You know Johnny I'm an expatriate. I've been here for 3 years and you are the only person who ever told me they loved me with a smile on their face." I can't remember my mom telling me every day she loves me, I knew she loved me, but she never... you know what I mean? I haven't got that at home, that's what is wrong with the world today. If we learn to love there won't be wars. No killing, no raping, no fighting. Because we are loving one another. That's what we human beings got to learn how to love one another. One of the greatest joy that can come to an individual is when you are doing something. And helping others see it, seeing the reaction on the face.
Good morning darling. How are you? Come on darling, come over. You know I’m just waiting for you.
You are such a great guy.
Oh love you darling. I never stop loving you.
I've been here since December of 2007, and pass by every morning. And I say, I gotta have a picture. And that's today and a kiss.
How have you been?
Good. You always put a smile on my face.
That's what I am here for, darling. When are you coming back and see me. I’ll be driving by tomorrow morning. You know, I love them all. I could love 'em. I'd put a lot of "honey" on them.
They love it. One thing men got to learn. Women need to be loved. Tell them you love them every day.
Good morning darling. How are you? I love you. Thank you darling. I will always love you.
One day a lady said: Johnny, I wish my husband were like you. She said: I told my husband; I think Johnny Barnes every day. Five days a week. And every day he tells me that loves me. The only time you tell me you love me is when you want to 'ride' me. Johnny don't want to 'ride,' but he tells me he loves me every day. I said: "Darling, be careful, be careful..."
I thought at the time, and this wasn't long after he started, that maybe he wouldn't be appreciated or given any recognition and I thought, 'what a great subject matter for a sculpture.'
He said, "You have inspired me. I think I'd like to make a statue of you. How you feel?" That's all right. If you want to do it, Okay.
I think that everybody would wish that Johnny were there forever, himself. And I suppose the next best thing is to have a statue commemorating him.
And so I'm happy for it and I'm thankful for it.
Well, I hope that when he won't be with us anymore, that people will remember what he stood for, and how he touched their lives when they drive into town on their commute, and I hope that the memory of Johnny Barnes will somehow influence people to be a bit like him to not take every little thing so serious, but to remember Johnny Barnes stood there and said, "I love you. I love you." and that hopefully brings back some warmness to people's lives and puts a smile on their face.
He'll never leave. You know? Every single person on this island has him right here. And you can't say that he's gone. You know? I mean, they… You think about the number of statues that are here on this island. Growing up as a kid, there was just one. It was Sir George Summers when I was a little girl, and the second one they built was Johnny Barnes. And they that no matter what, whether you are going through East Bodway at 3 in the afternoon you still see that statue. So, he'll never be gone. Whether it's the statute or in your heart or in your mind, there will always be Johnny Barnes.