Posts Tagged ‘Wealth’

Against all the odds, the world is becoming a happier place

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Despite deepening economic gloom and impending climatic destruction the world is becoming a happier place, according to an analysis of quarter of a century of data on wellbeing from 45 countries around the globe. The finding goes against the received wisdom that a country’s economic advances do not translate into increased wellbeing among its citizens.

The researchers who compiled the data believe increasing levels of happiness were not picked up until now because studies have tended to focus on rich countries where increases in wealth make little difference to their citizens’ satisfaction with life.

“The classic view, which we are not disputing, is that there are diminishing marginal returns to economic development,” said Roberto Foa at Harvard University. “So for initial levels of economic development people are escaping subsistence poverty and people’s subjective levels of happiness will increase.”

Click here for the full article.

If you’re ever having trouble coming up with one more happy thought to complete your five happy thoughts per day, just remember that the world is becoming a happier place.  That’s bound to make you smile.

-MJ

There’s Something About Denmark

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

Three years ago, if you had asked a person from Denmark the secret to happiness, you probably would have gotten back a blank stare. The same question today, however, likely would be answered with knowing laughter and any one of several explanations.

Being recognized as the world’s happiest people simply takes some getting used to.

Since 2006, Denmark, a largely homogenous country of 5 million people on Europe’s stormy northern coast, has been anointed the happiest place on earth by two very different surveys. The studies’ findings have upended dated international perceptions of Denmark as a quaint but chilly dairy exporter with a high suicide rate, recasting the country instead as a model of social harmony that is thriving in an era of globalization.

Click here for the full article.

That’s it.  I’m moving to Denmark.

The article also says, “Denmark’s approach relies on high taxes and aggressive redistribution of wealth—anathema to many free-market Americans—which results in a broad range of social services like health care, retirement pensions, and quality public schools.”  I fully support the free market and individual responsibility for one’s success, but I also sometimes think that “aggressive redistribution of wealth” would be a good thing even if all it did was guarantee that we had better public schools.  Some of our nation’s public schools are in positively shameful conditions.  Evidence suggests that access to a good education creates happier people with an overall better quality of life.  I know I’d be happier knowing that every child in American had access to a clean, structurally sound school building, with decent teachers and an effective curriculum.   How about you?

-MJ

Survey Says: People Are Happier

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Happiness hunters have done it again. They’ve used an army of pollsters and a mountain of data to uncover the world’s happiest countries. But this year, there are some unexpected winners—for unexpected reasons.

The World Values Survey, which has compiled data from 350,000 people in 97 countries since 1981, found Denmark to be home to the planet’s most contented citizens (again) with Zimbabwe as the most miserable (again). Classic Scandinavian front-runners like Sweden and Finland were nudged out of the top 10 by Puerto Rico and Colombia. El Salvador placed a surprising 11th, beating out Malta and Luxembourg. Further down the list came the U.S., ranked in 16th place.

Directed by University of Michigan political scientist Ronald Inglehart and administered from Stockholm, the survey found that freedom of choice, gender equality, and increased tolerance are responsible for a considerable rise in overall world happiness. The results shatter the more simplistic and traditionally accepted notion that wealth is the determining factor, says Inglehart.

Click here for the full article.

I think one of the most interesting things about this survey is the discovery that 3 main sources of happiness are:

  1. Freedom of choice
  2. Gender equality
  3. Increased tolerance

I think I just like the idea that happiness can be defined so clearly and easily.  Also, while I don’t usually make decisions based on pure emotions, I must confess that one reason I approve of using these three criteria to measure happiness is due to the way they just feel so right to me.  I love freedom because having many choices and opportunities make me happy.  Being treated as an equal, even though I’m a woman, also makes me happy.  And fighting and anger and hatred make me sad,  but tolerance makes me happy.  See?  These three measure just work.

What do you think about them?  Would you add another notch to the measuring stick of happiness?

-MJ

Heaven knows why we are all miserable now, say the Christian MPs

Monday, May 12th, 2008

The primary cause of unhappiness in Britain is not lack of material wealth but a loss of faith in God and religion, a group of MPs says today. In a new report on wellbeing, a crossparty group of Christian MPs echoes concerns raised by the Conservative leader, David Cameron, who has emphasised repeatedly the importance of action to improve society’s sense of “wellbeing”. They say that the Christian voice is not being respected properly because it comes across too often as “negative”.

Steve Webb, a Liberal Democrat MP, said: “Over the years, many of us who are MPs rooted in the Christian community have been concerned that our voice in the public square can come across as being too negative.

“We are easily identified by what we are against, but less clear what we are for.” He said that, despite material wealth, society lacked a sense of wellbeing. He argued that this had been caused by the erosion of religious values.

Click here for the full article.

Free time outranks wealth in happiness survey

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

Wealth may be playing less of a role in Americans’ pursuit of happiness, according to results from a Pew Research Center survey.

Thirteen percent of 2,413 respondents in a survey earlier this year said being wealthy was “very important” to them, according to a survey posted Wednesday on the Pew Research Center’s Web site. Other opinion choices were “somewhat important” or “not very important.” It ranked last among seven statements of priority such as living a religious life, doing volunteer work, donating to charity or being married.

Nearly 70% of respondents said “hav[ing] enough free time to do things you want to do” was very important, the Web site said. This received the largest amount of very important votes. Having children and being successful in a career ranked second with 61% of respondents saying these were very important to them.

Click here for the full article.

Politicians told to focus on wellbeing

Monday, April 28th, 2008

[...] It is time for politicians to start focusing on the politics of wellbeing rather than the politics of wealth, one of the world’s leading psychologists told an audience in Auckland last night (April 22).Professor Martin Seligman, the pioneer of positive psychology, told an audience of 150 people attending a lecture at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, sponsored by Human Resource consultancy the Foresight Institute, that creating wealth was no longer enough.

Despite countries such as New Zealand, Australia and the United States being wealthier than ever before, they were all experiencing epidemics of depression, he said. New Zealand scored particularly badly in world rankings of wellbeing, usually placed at around 22 or 23, compared with Australia, which was usually placed around 8.

“Why is there so much pessimism and depression and lack of wellbeing?” he asked. “Given the prosperity of your nation, and given what’s happened in the past century, why is there so much depression? Depression is probably 20 times more common than it was 50 years ago.

Click here for the full article.