Wednesday, March 20, 2019, features the sixth annual celebration of the United Nation’s International Day of Happiness. The 2019 World Happiness Report will be published on that day. In the 2018 report, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Switzerland topped the rankings and all scored well on the main factors found to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance. The report is produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network which is also involved in producing the Global Happiness and Well-being Policy Report (the second edition of which was issued last month).
Chapter 6 of this report by Ed Diener and Dr Robert Biswas-Diener explores well-being interventions to improve societies. Here are a few excerpts from this chapter.
  • The new emphasis on well-being as a policy goal is, in part, due to the emergence of a science of happiness. (The report notes that the number of published papers on happiness has soared from a few hundred 40 years ago to hundreds of thousands today.)
  • The word “happiness” may conjure ambivalence in many because it seems fleeting, vague and outside the purview of policy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Happiness is widely desired, measurable, and directly relevant to policy.
  • It is important to differentiate “Sustainable Happiness” [as] that which tends to provide lasting flourishing, [as compared to] “having fun,” which is momentary.
  • If there is a single “secret” to happiness, it is to be found in high-quality social relationships. . . . Importantly, it is not just receiving social support that is associated with well-being but giving it as well.
Animal well-being and a healthy and sustaining environment are not among the seven main factors that were reported to support happiness in the 2018 global happiness report. We at WellBeing International argue that animals and the environment are very important factors contributing to human well-being. The recent very meticulous study reporting that children who grow up near “green” space have lower incidences of mental disease as adults are just one example of the importance of nature to human health and well-being. And as for animal companionship (or exposure to wild animals) most people have at least one story about the comfort or healing power provided by a favorite companion animal or a remarkable interaction with a wild animal. We should develop a more inclusive index of happiness that includes our fellow travelers on Spaceship Earth.

Translate »