Houston listed among ten most joyous places on earth

Lights for the buildings downtown can be seen as the sun sets Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008 in Houston. Houston, a fast-paced metropolis that churns on industries like oil, medical research, space technology and law, was dragged to a near halt by Hurricane Ike. But unlike its coastal suburbs, it was more inconvenienced than devastated. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

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Let’s face it. Houston has its problems: the heat, the humidity, the traffic.

On the other hand, Houstonians understand the meaning of joy: enjoying the diverse array of food, music and art; taking in a sunset on a patio; watching the team with the best record in baseball (52-26).

According to the magazine Conde Nast Traveler, Houstonians have even more reason to feel happy. The magazine ranked the “Ten Most Joyous Places On Earth” and Houston came in at Number Ten, ahead of all but two U.S. cities.

Shawn Achor and Gretchen Rubin, authors of the best-selling book, “The Happiness Project,” created a list that measures the relative happiness of specific locations. These factors include opportunities for adventure, ways to make connections, and access to cultural events.

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One of the places that the article mentions for “a cool adventure” is a Texas institution: the local icehouses. While these open-air sites once provided ice for homes prior to in-home refrigeration, they now serve as local meeting spots that provide ice-cold beer, old-school jukeboxes, and pleasant conversation with friends and neighbors during the spring and summer months.

Another arena that the magazine credits with boosting Houstonians’ happiness is the city’s vibrant art scene. The authors cite the Menil Collection, the Rothko Chapel, and the James Turrell Skyspace at Rice University as examples of free art spaces that anyone can enjoy. The Houston Zoo was also mentioned as a place where families can bond and visitors can get plentiful exercise while enjoying the animal exhibits.

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Out of the American locations the magazine surveyed, only the “big island” of Hawaii and the ski resort town of Telluride, Colorado, ranked higher than Houston. The entire top ten is as follows:

  1. Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
  2. Shanghai, China
  3. Aarhus, Denmark
  4. Madagascar
  5. Hawaii Island, Hawaii (the Big Island)
  6. Bordeaux, France
  7. Telluride, Colorado
  8. Bermuda
  9. Matera, Italy
  10. Houston, Texas

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