It’s 6:00 a.m. in Hamilton, Bermuda. Ninety-two-year-old Johnny Barnes stands on the edge of a roundabout and waves at people as they drive past. He’s been here since before 4:00 a.m. He’ll be here until 10:00 a.m. He’s not asking for money or begging for food. He’s not protesting, complaining, picketing, or loitering.
He’s making people happy.
He wears a straw hat and a salty beard. His eyes are bright, teeth white, and skin leathery and dark. The years have bent his back and slowed his step. But they haven’t siphoned his joy. He waves with both hands extended in front of him. His wrists turn from side to side as if he were adjusting the volume on a soundboard.
He pulls back his right hand to retrieve a kiss and blow it in the direction of a taxi driver or commuter.
“I love you!” he shouts. “I’ll love you forever!” “Hello, there, darlin’. I love you!”
And they love him! Bermudans call him Mr. Happy Man. They route their morning commute to see him. If Johnny’s not standing in his spot, people call the radio station to check on him. If he happens to miss acknowledging some commuters, they often circle the roundabout until he waves at them. One morning a cranky woman determined not to make eye contact with him. She wanted to wallow in her bad mood. But she ended up looking his way. When he smiled, she smiled.
Another sour attitude bit the dust.
Johnny’s philosophy is simple. “We human beings gotta learn how to love one another. One of the greatest joys that can come to an individual is when you’re doing something and helping others.”1
Wouldn’t you love to meet a person like him?
Better still, wouldn’t you like to be like him?
Max Lucado, How Happiness Happens: Finding Lasting Joy in a World of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectations (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2019).
We have just released a new Bible study the book How Happiness Happens. These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.