the article we learned last week :

the latest global analysis of happiness and satisfaction levels shows that the most satisfied people tend to live in latin america, western Europe, and northern america, whereas eastern europeans are the least satisfied.

over the past decade, the study of happiness has become a bona fide discipline. as a result, government policy advisers are getting interested and politicians are using the research as the basis for new strategies.

what above all else has made systematic study possible is data gathered from hundreds of surveys measuring happiness across different cultures, professions, religions, and socio-economic groups.
they can investigate the impact of money and inequality.
we can now show which behaviours are risky as far as happiness goes. We should eventually be able to show what kind of lifestyle suits what kind of person.

while it is tempting to hold up those nations that report the highest levels of happiness as a model for others to follow, this may be unwise.
first, the word "happiness" has no precise equivalent in some languages.
secondly, "satisfaction" is not quite the same thing as "happiness".
thirdly, different cultures value happiness in very different ways.
    in individualistic western countries, happiness is often seen as a reflection of personal achievement. this pressure to be happy could lead people to over-report how happy they feel.
    in the more collectivist nations in Asia, people have a more fatalistic attitude towards happiness. in Asia cultures, the pursuit of happiness is often frowned on, which in turn could lead people to under-report.
How satisfied a person is with their life depends on how successfully they adhere to their particular cultural standard.

One of the most significant observations to come from research findings is that in individualised nations, happiness has no risen with average incomes.
the desire for material goods, which has increased with average income, is a "happy suppressant".

Since nothing about materialism can help you find happiness, governments should discourage it.

the key to making people happier is to shift the emphasis from economic well-being to personal development, and to discourage the pursuit of social status.
paradoxically, by striving too hard to climb the global happiness rankings, governments are in danger of turning the pursuit of happiness into yet another competitive quest for status - just what researchers have shown is a sure path to making people miserable.

No comments: