Sunday, May 31, 2009

Happiest Places on Earth

Where do people feel the most positive about their lives?
  1. Denmark
  2. Finland
  3. Netherlands
  4. Sweden
  5. Ireland
  6. Canada
  7. Switzerland
  8. New Zealand
  9. Norway
  10. Belgium
The United States ranked number 11 -- behind all those other countries with their socialism and health-care. Yeah, somehow I imagine we Americans would be happier if we didn't fear that a chronic disease or tragic accident could bankrupt our families.

The happiness report was released by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development. They used data from a Gallup World Poll conducted in 140 countries around the world last year. Some of the questions asked: Did you enjoy something you did yesterday? Were you proud of something you did yesterday? Did you learn something yesterday? Were you treated with respect yesterday?

I wonder how many people answered with "go to hell."

But apparently this positive psychology research is a big deal. It is a recent branch of psychology that "studies the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive." Like in New York for example:
Although many economists agree that money doesn’t make people happy, disparities in income make people miserable, according to most happiness literature. Happiness, in other words, “is less a function of absolute income than of comparative income,” as Gilbert puts it. “Now, if you live in Hallelujah, Arkansas,” he continues, “the odds are good that most of the people you know do something like you do and earn something like you earn and live in houses something like yours. New York, on the other hand, is the most varied, most heterogeneous place on earth. No matter how hard you try, you really can’t avoid walking by restaurants where people drop your monthly rent on a bottle of wine and store windows where shoes sit like museum pieces on gold pedestals. You can’t help but feel trumped. As it were.”
So here is another list. These 10 things are scientifically proven to make you happy:
  1. Savor Everyday Moments
  2. Avoid Comparisons
  3. Put Money Low on the List
  4. Have Meaningful Goals
  5. Take Initiative at Work
  6. Make Friends, Treasure Family
  7. Smile Even When You Don’t Feel Like It
  8. Say Thank You Like You Mean It
  9. Get Out and Exercise
  10. Give It Away, Give It Away Now
Of course, the skeptic in me says nothing is ever as simple as a 10 point list. Also, they left out hugs.


pinkpackrat said...

Nothing is ever as simple as a ten point list which doesn't make everything you are saying any less true-- great post. Thanks. It makes me happy:-)

Trung said...

*HUGS* during my research on conspicuous consumption, i read an article that argued people with a higher income tend to be happier than people with a lower income. i don't necessarily think money should be a measure of your happiness index; perhaps the people with a higher income can afford to do more because they have good jobs (i.e. they can take more time off from their jobs to spend with their families or go on more vacations since people with higher incomes tend to receive better benefits). i definitely see a correlation between happiness and living in a socialized country; more vacation time, working fewer hours a week, not going bankrupt because of health care, etc.

Trung said...

btw, i forgot to mention that on your own personal happiness list, ts3 would be ranked number one ;)

Kristen said...

Pinkpackrat, thanks!

Trung, you know me too well. By the way, I think the main point that article about NY was making is that it's the disparities between incomes that tend to make people unhappy. If you see people spending the equivalent of your monthly income on one dinner in a fancy restaurant, you might grow a little depressed.