If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!
According to the just released World Happiness Report, people in Switzerland clap the loudest as the happiest people, followed by Iceland and Denmark.
Canada, New Zealand and Australia also made the list of the top 10 most cheerful nations. The United States ranked 15th.
The least “happy” countries were noticeably ravaged by war and poverty and included Togo, Burundi, Syria, Benin, and Rwanda.
What is the World Happiness Report?
The World Happiness Report is an initiative of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network, first published in 2012. This study focuses on people’s evaluations of their lives based on life expectancy, wealth, freedom to make life choices, social support, generosity, and government corruption.
This report is somewhat different than this year’s Gallup’s Positive Experience Index poll, which I wrote about in my blog, The Happiest Country in the World. In that study, Latin America countries dominated the top 10 list with Paraguay coming in as number one, Interestingly enough, the US also ranked 15th in that poll. Apparently, we’re happy, but not ecstatic.
Researchers for the Gallup poll questioned people from different countries and asked how happy they felt the day before. Had they experienced enjoyment, smiled, or laughed? Had they learned something new or did something interesting the previous day? Were they treated with respect?
The World Happiness Report is more geared toward using happiness research to come up with better government policies. Researchers asked questions such as: Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your freedom to choose what you do with your life? Have you donated money to a charity in the past month?
Personally, I take the Gallup poll more seriously since it questioned participants specifically about their feelings. However, since the World Happiness Report reviews the state of happiness in the world today and shows how the new science of happiness explains personal and national variations of how joyful people feel, we can definitely take a few lessons away.
So what is the Swiss secret to happiness? True, Switzerland is extraordinarily beautiful and the people seem relaxed. They have a high standard of living, great public transportation, excellent healthcare, and the best chocolate.
And it’s hard not to notice that the countries at the top of the list were some of the wealthiest countries. But is there something else useful we can decipher from this report?
What Can We Learn?
He pointed out that according to this study, living in a society where people are generous and volunteering are also important for happiness. No surprise there.
As I pointed out in my blog, Be a Giver, “givers” report an improved sense of well-being, lower stress levels, better physical and emotional health, and yes, increased happiness. As seen from this latest study, it also helps if you are surrounded by other people who give generously. Obviously, it pays to choose your friends wisely.
Come On Get Happy!
The good news is that in general, the world is feeling happier. Over the past three years, 51 per cent of categories measured – which included people’s happiness with their work, health, material well-being, relationships, social support and local environment –had improved or showed no change.
Moreover, the proportion of people selecting the highest ratings for each aspect of personal well-being had increased significantly, with over a quarter (26.8 per cent) of people rating their life satisfaction at the highest levels, compared with only 5.6 per cent at the lowest.
So join the crowd and get happier. You don’t have to live in Switzerland to know you’re happy and clap your hands proudly!
Images courtesy of dan and Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net