The French genius for “joie de vivre,” or joy of life, is well-known in south Louisiana, where French and Cajun culture informs so much of our good food and good music.
So we were naturally distressed to read a recent article in The Christian Science Monitor noting that French people consistently rank among Europe’s most-dissatisfied residents.
“The French consistently rank as some of the least-upbeat citizens on the globe, despite a 35-hour work week and generous social benefits that range from preschools and swimming pools to universities and health care,” The Monitor reported. “A 2011 . . . poll revealed the French to be less optimistic than war-torn Iraqis and Afghans.”
Scholar Claudia Senik calls this “the French unhappiness puzzle” — the chronic pessimism of a country where life is, by and large, pretty good.
We can’t say why so much sadness prevails among the French, although we have noticed that French cinema has, over the years, made melancholia into a cottage industry.
Perhaps more French men and women should connect with their cousins here in south Louisiana, where “Laissez les bons temps rouler” is a civic creed.
For the French, it seems a little dose of Louisiana fun wouldn’t hurt.