I am writing this in the UK. Here we cannot escape the fact that there is an election going on in the USA. It is all over our televisions and newspapers. Both candidates talk about money, the credit crunch, the state of the stock market. They also look at moral issues such as abortion and make references to USA foreign policy in Afghanistan and Iraq. But who talks about happiness?
Happiness, as measured by national surveys, has hardly changed over 50 years. The rich are generally happier than the poor, but rich countries do not get happier as they get richer. The Japanese are much better off now than in 1950, but the proportion who say they are “very happy” has not budged. Americans too have remained much as Alexis de Tocqueville found them in the 19th century: “So many lucky men, restless in the midst of abundance.”
Is it the job of politicians to care for our happiness? Certainly in the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan they think so as it is the only country in the world which puts happiness at the heart of government policy. The government must consider every policy for its impact not only on Gross Domestic Product, but also on GNH: “Gross National Happiness”. Should the US have a Gross National Happiness policy?
Certainly the country you live in can have an effect on you happiness. The New Economics Foundation conducted a survey to calculate the happiness factor 178 countries.
The top 20 are:
9. New Zealand
15. Costa Rica
17. United Arab Emirates
18. Brunei Darussalam
19. United States of America
and the bottom 20 are
159. Equatorial Guinea
161. Burkina Faso
165. Sierra Leone
166. Central African Republic
168. Cote d’Ivoire
176. Congo, Dem. Rep. of the
Bhutan comes in at number 63 which is surprising as a country that uses Gross National Happiness as a guide to its policies should in theory be high on the list!
So, how do you tell if you are happy or not?
Research has shown that happiness has to come from within you. If you’re not content with your life and at peace with yourself, no influences outside of your self such as money or possessions will make you truly happy.
Your Happiness Score
Give yourself marks out of ten for these four questions (0= not at all; 10= to a large extent).
Outlook on life, adaptability and resilience
1) To what extent are you outgoing, energetic, flexible and open to change?
2) Do you have a positive outlook on life, bounce back quickly and feel that you are in control of your fate?
Existence: health, finances and friendships
3) To what extent do you feel your basic needs are met (such as personal, health, financial, sense of community)?
Higher needs, such as self esteem, expectations, ambitions and sense of humour
4) To what extent can you call on the support of those close to you, meet your expectations and feel a clear sense of who you are?
Scoring: Add up your scores for the 4 questions. If you scored 28 or less then you could do with being more happy.
How do you become more happy? well that's a subject for another article coming soon.
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Stephen is the propietor of selfdevelopment.com a site bringing you news and information on positive self development.