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Ryan Bakken, Forum Communications, Published December 16 2012

Ryan Bakken: Wealth, thinness, smarts, youth — no, thanks

GRAND FORKS - In 2010, an Adweek Media/Harris Poll asked American adults what they would most like to change about themselves.

This was not an open-ended question. The four options were: richer, thinner, smarter or younger.

It likely doesn’t surprise you that richer was clearly the most popular choice. Richer was named by 43 percent of respondents, with thinner second at 21 percent. Following in order were smarter and younger, with only 9 percent wanting none of the four options.

From the poll results, it’s clear that many people believe money will cure their ills. It won’t; just ask lottery jackpot winners.

Thinner ranking second is no surprise, either. My guess is that 99 percent of that 21 percent who want to be slimmer are women. That reasoning is because in-denial males might think of themselves as stout, burly, portly, husky, pudgy, brawny or thick-set — but not fat.

Even though I’m not Mitt Romney when it comes to money nor Sheldon Cooper of “The Big Bang Theory” when it comes to body type, I would choose neither richer nor thinner as my preferred improvement. Nor would I pick the other two options.

If I was to be granted a wish, I’d choose taller.

A measly two feet taller would be nice, because it’s clear that if I was 7-foot-7, I’d be a professional basketball player. That would not only make me richer, but also thinner (from the required exertion).

Taller people also are more respected, studies show. I can verify this. Last week, I was asked to take on the role of an elf. I ask you: Does the lanky Pat Sweeney get such requests? I don’t think so.

I’ve been a stunt-double for Santa Claus several times, for fun and column fodder, but I’m drawing the line at elf. Men also more easily accept portly than elfin.

The poll also showed that preferences change over time. For instance, 19 percent of 55-and-older people choose being younger as their priority while only 4 percent of adults 34-and-under want to be younger. Makes sense, I guess.

But, for proof that having more money doesn’t buy happiness, I defer to The Beatles:

I’ll buy you a diamond ring by friend,

If it makes you feel all right.

I’ll get you anything my friend,

If it makes you feel all right.

Cause I don’t care too much for money,

For money can’t buy me love.