How do we define happiness in this world ? There are many possible responses, but we could probably all learn something by studying the third annual version of the World Happiness Report. It’s put together by an international body called the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
They use a broad list of factors to measure happiness, and they’re not the ‘usual suspects’. Personal income is not No. 1 on that list. The ability and willingness of people to care for each other is considered more important, and wouldn’t that be refreshing as a top national goal in any country.
The top five countries, according to the 2015 Happiness Report are, Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway AND Canada. One might argue that it definitely IS a Canadian value to be something less than number one, and the countries above us on the list are often cited as very desirable places to live.
It appears to be true that money alone cannot buy happiness. None of the oil rich nations of the Persian Gulf region are there, suggesting perhaps that respect for human rights is far more important than their governments think. Norway is ahead of Canada, but far from the top despite being regarded as the gold standard when it comes to managing energy resources. They have accumulated an incredible national trust fund of more than one trillion dollars, by deliberately choosing to leave the bulk of their wealth in the ground.
Also very interesting is the fact that the United States did not make the top five, and none of the countries that did get in can be considered a tropical paradise by any means. Are we really to believe that those of us who spend the winter on the Canadian prairie are happier than people on Caribbean islands who never have to put on a parka or light a furnace ?
I find that very hard to believe, but let’s maybe work on it together, shall we ?
I’m Roger Currie