The World Happiness Report 2021 claims the petrified gaps between the money & happy life, contentment, and life satisfaction among citizens.
What is the one thing that all 7.9 Billion people in the world are chasing?
The one thing you want in your life?
Happiness! We all are running after it.
There was a time when it was a spiritual experience but today happiness is an Industry worth over $4.2 Trillion dollars, everyone is selling it! In the last year, around 3 million people have enrolled themselves for Coursera Online Course on Happiness. There are 150 billion posts on social media with hashtags #happiness, #happinessischoice, and #happilyeverafter. There are merchandises selling happiness in bold letters in their brand logos, marketing, and advertising.
But what exactly is happiness? And where do we find it?
Hindu Scriptures say humans can only temporarily seek happiness on Earth. This can pursue the 4 Chief purposes("Puruṣārtha '') which are Dharma- religious and moral duty, Artha- Wealth, Kama- Conjugal Bliss and Moksha- liberation. For permanent happiness according to Hinduism is only in the highest heaven and for that we must obtain the Moksha(Liberation). However, Islam says that happiness is life-long process which includes Peace of mind, tranquility of heart and contentment in the world. In Judaism, the followers of Moses state happiness as the "Ultimate goal of Man '' meaning it is the moral duty of men to pursue happiness.
Today at least 200 Universities including the Cambridge, Harvard and Oxford Colleges have separate research institutes dedicated to studying "Happiness" and yet, happiness remains one of the least understood subjective terms in the world. Every individual has the distinct definition for the happiness,
A good Cup of Coffee is happiness,
A good Weather is happiness,
An evening well spent is happiness,
A good movie is happiness,
The end of lockdown is happiness.
It's actually that simple & attainable and yet, its complicated, seemingly hard to get. So much so, that we need videos, books, podcasts, motivational speeches to help us find happiness.
Finland is the world's happiest country. People in Finland spend more time in nature, they love swimming, reading books, and eating well. In Japan, happiness is linked to Good Luck and Social Harmony, whereas in the United States, Happiness is considered to be Freedom and Personal Achievement. However, in China, there is a certain aversion to happiness. They believe that relentless pursuit of happiness or "too much happiness" can bring "Unhappiness"
What is 'Too Much' Happiness? Can we measure it?
No, We Can't!
But very often we try to measure our levels of happiness with others. We use comparison to measure happiness. But the research shows the contrast of it. Scientists working on research in happiness confirmed that 'Unhappy People' are prone to comparison with others, have low self-esteem which has negative outcomes on mental health.
Who is responsible for ensuring Happiness?
Is happiness a Personal Choice?
Does the government have a role to play in inducing it?
Before answering it, first we see the basic things we do to make ourselves happy. Like we can hone our hobbies, doing things we love, etc. But there is a myth that money and travel equals happiness. But, Science says that
“Money Cannot Buy Sustainable Happiness”
Money becomes a big factor in long term happiness only if someone is struggling to make ends meet. Otherwise, money has very little to do with happiness. If we look at the case study of Costa Rica, it is far from rich. If we see the per capita wealth, Costa Rica has just 1/5th of America’s Wealth; yet, it ranks above the U.S. in the Global Happiness Index. Costa Rica shows that government policies play a big role in inducing happiness. In 1948, Costa Rica's President José Figueres Ferrer abolished the military of Costa Rica after achieving victory in the civil war. That money was diverted to the Health, Environment and Education sector. Today Costa Rica spends approx. 8% of GDP on Education. The country’s top university is funded by the government which makes Costa Rica 16th Happiest country in the world.
The World’s Happiest Country - Finland, was named the most literate nation in 2016, which clearly states that;
“Education can and does play a pivotal role in happiness as do the Government policies”
New Zealand is 9th happiest country - In 2019, New Zealand released its well being budget. The idea was to spend on the health and well-being of citizens and not concentrate on wealth and economic growth alone. The budget provides all new funds to achieve 5 specific well-being goals: support mental health, diminishing child poverty, reinforcing indigenous peoples, driving to a low-carbon-emission economy, and advancing in a digital age. Thereafter, comes Canada - 14th on the list, it has the most progressive indicators on national well being. The UK is 17th on the queue, which has developed the national well-being programmed in 2010.
Nordic Countries featured in Top 10 Countries. What do they all have in common?
- Life Satisfaction
- Social Support
- Freedom to make Life Choices
- Lack of Corruption
If we are talking about the Happiness Index, then we cannot forget Bhutan. In 1972 Bhutan's king Jigme Singye Wangchuk declared that Gross National Happiness(GNH) is more significant than Gross National Product(GNP) and till date Bhutan closely monitors their citizens happiness as its most precious commodity. Every 5 years, survey is taken out in Bhutan and 300 questions are asked to the random 8000 selected households. The participants are then compensated for their time with day's wage.
Where is India in the World's Happiness Report?
It ranks 131th out of 149 on the list, way behind Pakistan and Iran. This is enough reason for some serious rethinking. It is the duty of the government to ensure the well being of citizens and not just run after wealth! So what must the government do ?
If we refer the National Happiness Report, there are 6 key ingredients for National Happiness:
- Life Expectancy
- Social Support
Why must Countries facilitate the Pursuit of Happiness?
Happiness is closely linked to the overall well-being of society, anti-social people like terrorists are often traced back to the unhappy and disturb families. A happy worker is a better worker and can bring 13% more productivity. Countries today have established ministries for the well-being of citizens. In 2016, UAE(United Arab Emirates) appointed a minister of state for happiness. The Danish government probed with the Happiness Research Institute to improve the people’s quality of life.
Prioritize Happiness, Prioritize Positivity! Science says that it is next to impossible to remain happy all the time, it is okay to feel sad, angry and stressed. We would not grow and excel in life to pursue the dreams we want! But happiness is the key factor to maintain the peace at home, offices and public spaces. If we always remain stressed and depressed while we all have desired amenities and work like a robot feeling nothing just for the wage, then it creates the root of negativity and stress among the people. Innovation, technology and economical development of the nation is important, but what is the use of wealth, if the citizens are working 12 hours a day from 24 hours and at the end of the day, they just remain unsatisfied, lonely and depressed with no advancements in their lives?