Let’s Talk About World Happiness

In the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word happiness means a state of well-being and contentment. Modern approach considers happiness to not be a function of how well you express your feelings but rather a gauge of general satisfaction with life which largely relies on the confidence that an individual lives in a community where people take care of each other.

The World Happiness Report is an annual publication of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network, based on the subjective ratings of the quality of life of the respondents – with the idea that the data collected could be used by member countries to assist in guiding public policies. The report is founded on the general well-being of individuals and societies. Over and above this are the prospects and values that guide the people, taking into account the context which they live in. 

When it comes to the World Happiness Report, in 2020, the top-ten countries were Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand, Austria and Luxembourg. The only change from the 2019 list was Canada was added and Luxembourg removed. In the 2018 list, Australia was added and Austria removed.
Many of these countries, frequently appear on various lists of world’s luckiest countries, like the recent list done by Lucky Nugget online casino, with about %70 similarity. The world annual happiness report by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network bases its findings on various factors. The rankings evaluate how respondents perceive the quality of their life on a scale of one to ten. 

The World Happiness Report 2020 explains that the foundation of happiness for most of the top ten happiest countries is a combination of factors. They include strong social welfare benefits, high levels of trust, a strong democracy and government institutions, deep social connections, freedom and the right to self-determination. There are additional aspects such as free college education, a universal healthcare system, economic equality as well as political rights.

As one looks at these factors and reads between the lines, it is easy to say that they are happy because they are rich. True, that is a factor, but it is a very superficial way of looking at it. The USA for example is rich, yet it ranks at 18th overall. Therefore, richer does not necessarily mean happier. In the USA, it has been observed that there is a lack of faith and trust in institutions as opposed to Scandinavian countries. 

Another aspect is deep social connections. Social media is becoming more important as it directly disrupts our face to face social interactions. This adversely affects happiness. Research has shown the damaging effects of social media on the self-image of the youth. It has also shown that in-person human relationships support happiness, while on-line connections do not. On the other hand, there are limitations that COVID 19 has put on in-person interactions. This, therefore, causes us to overly rely on virtual communication as a means of creating and maintaining the social bonds that support happiness.

The Happiness Index demonstrates that happiness is more about community and belonging, rather than the accumulation of personal wealth, or winning. Some of the happiest countries are those that care about sustainable development and do more to try and meet these goals. People are also happiest where there is more social equality and therefore trust is built. Also what may govern whether a community is happier is the extent to which its inhabitants feel a sense of belonging. When people feel connected to one another, and there is a sense of community, then happiness proves less elusive. Therefore, let us build stronger, more vibrant communities where everyone feels that they belong, and that their interests are catered for.  

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