Happiness Report: Should We Start Ranking Happiness?

We all love rankings. We all want to rank ourselves, benchmark against others, compare against the others. Now we even have a global ranking table based on Happiness. Is that helpful? Or is that detrimental?

Norway topped the 2017’s global happiness rankings, with Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland in the next few places with the World Happiness Report. How did they derive the rankings? Perhaps the measuring criteria is important and their guideline is based upon subjective well-being, which is a combination of 3 elements:

  • Life  evaluationreflective assessment of a person’s life
  • AffectPerson’s feelings or emotional states
  • Eudaemoniasense of meaning and purpose in life

And 6 indicators:

  • Freedom
  • Generosity
  • Health
  • Social Support
  • Income
  • Trustworthy Governance

Can Where You are, Influence Your Happiness?

When the happiness studies started this ranking in 2012, it stemmed from the concept that people’s well-being and happiness are paramount to public policies. We then see countries such as Bhutan came into the picture, where their national GDP is based upon the happiness of their country people. People who have no idea of where Bhutan is, started flocking to the Asia’s Switzerland to experience and learn about its secrets.

And in the latest report, Bhutan is ranked#97.

Countries with strong economical power and emphasis on freedom of speech such as the US, have wavering sentiments on their happiness, contributing that to “inequality, mean-spirited and corrupt governance”, which resulted in the lack of hope and rise in addictions and suicides. Countries such as UK, Germany, Japan and Singapore, are not closer to the top 10 with China even trailing way behind at #79.

Happiness is Subjective

However, happiness can have varying definitions depending on one’s view.

It can be from experience – which Merriam-Webster as a pleasurable or satisfying experience; It can be from psychology – which defines as mental or emotional state of well-being; It can be from philosophy – which the happiness report is based upon the Greek concept of Eudaemonia, referring to a good life. [Read: Ancient Wisdom: Still as True Today and in the Future]

One’s happiness can hardly be another’s.

When I was talking to our cleaning lady, Lena at my office, she’s always wearing a smile and greeting everyone “good morning (name)“. I was curious and asked if she’s really happy and why. Her answer is so simple…

I am grateful to contribute and get a pay check to bring my kids out, spend time together

On the contrary, my manager who earns 4x her current pay, is always seeking to climb the corporate ladder, trying to please the senior management and playing others down to go further up. He’s always with a grumpy face, other than to the senior management.

Is he happy? I highly doubt so.

To any others, it may just be a small amount of money and we grumble why we can’t have more. We seek for more, and when we start limiting ourselves of how we can’t, we start to feel worse, we start to feel less happy than before. [Read: One Sure Method to Attain Happiness]

But if we can choose to be grateful for what we have, strive for the better without expecting to get, we can definitely be much happier. Even the simplest of meals, the slightest warmth of a touch, or the most genuine of smile can bring joy to our daily lives.

Although the intention of the World Happiness Report is great, we can hardly change governance to suit every of our requests. But we can definitely choose to go after our own definition of happiness.

Let’s all be happier today!








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