After rating the nations of the world mostly on a financial basis, the Earth Institute at Columbia University recently published the first-ever “World Happiness Report” at the request of the United Nations.
The report contains information on various “happiness measurements” collected to create a “life evaluation score.” It provides a glance at how citizens of different countries grade their social status, political freedom, social networks, absence of corruption, mental and physical health, job security, family life, etc.
After gathering all the data into 158 pages, the researchers provided lists of both the happiest nations and the unhappiest nations; the happiest place on Earth, according to this report, is Denmark, while the unhappiest place is Togo (a small nation in Africa. The United States is ranked 11th, and Israel is in 14th place.
I must say I was kind of surprised with the results. First of all, I was positive the happiest place on earth was Disneyland, and secondly, Israel’s placement so close to the U.S. – and in a pretty high spot – was news to me.
We are under an everlasting security threat; we have a high rate of car accidents; the average temperature is 100 degrees Fahrenheit; we disagree with many governmental decisions; and most importantly, all we ever do is complain.
The United States, on the other hand, is the land of opportunities. Whenever I visit, I feel like I am in a fairytale; all your dreams can be realized there!
The American life has always appeared to us Israelis as idealistic and far better than ours; so either all those Israelis who participated in the study were planning their next trip to the States, or we are actually happy – almost as much as you Americans.
Maybe living in such a small, warm place is the secret ingredient for happiness, but my family and friends were as shocked as I was to read the list. Still, I must say, we all had a great day that day; I mean, it is always nice to read a firm fact that we are happy, and I guess sometimes we need official research to tell us that.
I’m glad this report was published. As important as studies on the finances of the world’s countries are, what really makes a place nice to live in is how happy the people who live there are (and not how much money they make). A happy place is usually a place of profit to the world.
A person who enjoys life will do his or her best to keep his or her surroundings in good shape. Happy people will probably recycle, work out, make donations and be patient with others.
I must admit that there is something to the point that happiness cannot be measured; financial status can be established as valid fact, while the enjoyment of life cannot be calculated unequivocally. But even if the numbers aren’t accurate and no one is as happy as the numbers show – it doesn’t make any real difference.
From now on, this semi-accurate measurement will be the world’s best measurement, and everything will be straightened by it. This measurement shows the world has really developed, and that humanity changes.
We no longer appreciate money the most. We really believe that money can’t buy love. Now the only thing left to do is to take those results, and do some good.
It is time to give a little push to the unhappy places, the places where poverty and famine dominate. It is time to take the “Western progression” and give back, even if that’s just putting a smile on one Togolese face.
By Noga Gur-Arieh
Editor’s note: Noga Gur-Arieh visited the U.S. to work at Camp Coleman after finishing her military service in the IDF. She is now back in Israel, working as a journalist.