The World Happiness Report came out this last week.
It’s the 10th anniversary of this powerful annual investigation into trends impacting on happiness and wellbeing in 150 countries all around the world.
It’s an incredibly rich resource and we’ll be spending time absorbing its findings and insights more deeply over the next few weeks.
Our first quick read of the report has, perhaps appropriately for a global happiness study, left us smiling and feeling rather upbeat and positive.
Given that the report comes in the midst of one of the biggest challenges the world has faced over the last few years, this might be as surprising as a sunny, warm day in March in the country we’re writing this in (currently ranked 17th in the world for happiness!).
So here are a few quick nuggets that have left us with a spring in our step:
- More countries around the world are showing increases in happiness than decreases.
- Interest in happiness and wellbeing is increasing at a National policy level all around the world. The number of Government initiatives around happiness is rising whilst attention to income and GDP is decreasing (and in books published since 2013 appear less often than the word happiness!). Perhaps we will see more countries follow in the footsteps of UAE (Currently 24th in the world for happiness) and appoint a Minister of Happiness!
- Negative emotions increased during the pandemic but happiness has remained much steadier than one might expect in part because negative emotions are significantly outweighed by an increase in expressions of benevolence – kindness and looking out for each other are key components of our wider wellbeing.
- More and more research is being done into the scientific basis of happiness. Our genes can have an influence. But at least 60-70% of differences in our happiness is determined by our environment. We also know that small things can make a big difference. Habits of “wakeful rest” can boost the default mode network part of our brain that has the biggest effect on happiness.
- Another important determinant of happiness is trust. Countries with higher levels of trust in public institutions also had more positive scores around Covid measures. Trust in institutions is slightly increasing in countries around the world.
Summarising global happiness from a lengthy report into 150 countries around the world risks being an oversimplified representation of a nuanced study, but the broad trends look positive.
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