See Article from Forbes:
So enraged as I am I will try to write with a tad bit of composure and tact. For I do believe that the Legatum Institute has created an index or collection of indices to measure which people around the globe laugh more and who are likely to have more sad days in any given 365.
So, I recently read an article on the Forbes website that had reasons and empirical evidence to support their research and findings on the world’s happiest and saddest countries. There are 8 key principle areas which they used to conduct their findings.
These are "appropriately" named the ingredients of prosperity: economy, entrepreneurship, governance, education, health, safety, personal freedom and social capital.
Now, as I write this I hope this does not come off as an attack on the different countries as I challenge their designated rating on this list but that it will come across to the reader as commentary that will allow you to reconsider this list, even question why others did not make it and to reconsider the supposed variables that supposedly made countries like Zimbabwe fall on the lesser half of the “Happy People List”.
Let’s start off with the Happiest countries, not only do the countries in question have some of the highest GDP’s in the world they also have some of the best “democracies”, established governments, excellent healthcare and education systems and enjoy high rates of GDP.
So why do I question some of them? Because I believe this was a study suited more for investigated standard of living rather than what gets your endorphins kicking forst thing in the morning, and how long that lasts...year round.
So here’s a quick take of top 5: Norway, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand & Sweden. Now believe it or not Scandinavian countries (Australia and New Zealand do not count obviously) have some of the highest suicide rates in the world. In my opinion, happy people wouldn’t voluntarily choose to – end their own lives- leaving their happy lives and of course their equally - happy country.
United States, the model for democracy and the "greatest representation of how capitalism works” is quoted as “An excellent place to start a business, the U.S. also ranks no. 1 in health, a function of high immunizations, clean water and the highest levels of gov't spending on healthcare.” The U.S happens to be one of the most dangerous places to live; crime rates in urban areas, mass murders, serial killers... I could go on. I would only have to mention hotspots like Detroit, the Bronx or Compton. Now, if an individual feels particularly unsafe in their environment, wouldn't that decrease their level of happiness? I consider personal safety a priority, and believe many people out there share the same sentiment, but again, I feel these factors where not included in their scale of happiness.
What about their neighbors in the north - "the almost Americans" - Canada? I’ve been there, great country, wonderful people but one of the coldest places I have ever visited. So ask me what makes me happy – in a simplistic answer one of the responses I would give you is good weather. I would give anything, on any given day for a sunny, warm day and blues skies. Did they ever do research to find that Zimbabwe, the country they ranked second to last has a capital city that is aptly named the Sunshine City? Is it fair to say that social capital did not have as equal a weighting in their score?
Are you assured many days of contentment if you carry with you, a sure knowledge that one day you will if you choose to be, become a successful entrepreneur? Is happiness eschewed from social capital?
So what is happiness at the end of the day? I believe this article equates certain ideals that stem out of the makings of modern day capitalism and what has come about as a result. Sure more people get vaccinated, the electoral process is more transparent, governments don’t stay in power for decades and more people can read and write. But I refuse to think that as humans we have lost a sense of what it really means to have joy. Joy is not manifested in things, in material goods, in the fact that you can say your ABC’s at age 4. Maybe happiness means seeing your daughter smile for the first time, or for the trader in a Rwandan market, yes in the blazing, hot, equatorial sun, happiness is seeing her favorite customers, making a few dollars and being able to feed her children – her struggle everyday could be a source of understated but unrequited joy.
In the words of my dear friend CM, Happiness ≠ $$. I find the approach taken here to be somewhat of a pro-western ideal. (Note: I don’t have any problems with capitalism, democracy or any liberties that have come out of them.) However, I believe that the West might place a higher emphasis on certain things over others on a higher scale as might not be in the rest of the underdeveloped and developing world. One only has to look around to see that a culture of materialism and consumerism is very much part and parcel of the west. Does that however, guarantee you more smiles than the average Zambian who is likely to die by age 40?
Then Zambia’s own neighbor, Zimbabwe. 2nd to last. Never had a civil war. No reports of child soldiers like Uganda (to my knowledge). No religious conflicts as exists in Nigeria. Not even mudslides like Chile. And did I mention,..no shovelling of snow form your car? No impeding threats of natural disasters like Bangladesh which has so many natural disasters in the form of monsoons and floods which threaten not only their economy, infrastructure but way of life, every single year. And yet, Zimbabweans are likely to laugh a little less because they suffer from political repression.
Now with all that being said, do I disagree with the fact that political repression, theocratic rule, poverty, no access to proper, adequate healthcare would make someone happier... of course not. The challenge therein lies in, where do we draw the line? In the words of Thomas Friedman, (in a totally different context however), the world is not flat. It is a challenge to try and compare the countires, cultures and peoples of this world. It equates to comparing apples and oranges in desert and thick forest. So many variables are relative, so many which can be classified as gray areas even and many depend on where you as an individual value each one on that “relative scale”. Furthermore, happiness should not be pinned on amenities afforded to you by your government, let’s leave that for standard of living in economic research, there I believe you can state a case for saying these variables drastically increase one’s standard of living and wellbeing.
Well, I believe, at the end of the day, I think we should allow people to be the judge of their own lives. Sure there is poverty, hunger and uneducated people in the world. But the saying never gets old. Some of the poorest people in the world are indeed the happiest.