Happiness is where you find it


I saw a program a couple of days ago about a study that had compiled statistics to determine who the happiest and unhappiest people were in this world today. My first reaction was to wonder why people spend good money on surveys like this, but I was interested enough to keep watching. I learned that the happiest people in the world are in Finland. This study is apparently done regularly, and it seems that Scandinavians are always at the top of the list. That didn’t really surprise me. They’re all smart and have blonde hair and blue eyes. I was surprised, however, to see that the United States was way down in the other direction. I was also surprised to learn that the younger segment of our population was even further down the list when compared to similar age groups throughout the world. Turns out, our younger generations came in as being less happy than almost all of the European younger generations.

I kept listening to the program, and even more surprising still was the fact that prior to 2008, these younger Americans consistently scored much higher and happier before starting an unhappy slide toward the doleful section of the scale. This study went on to conclude that politics, cultural and societal issues, as well as the economy had not undergone any radical shifts that would account for the change we now see. One single factor, however, was identified as being a monumental influence in remolding the lifestyle of 16- to 28-year-olds. It was around 2010 that the “smart phone” reached its most powerful point in popularity, sales and ownership in the United States. That is far from convincing proof, but it is certainly something to ponder. Could an addictive electronic gadget like a smart phone breed so much discontent? Like anything else in life, too much of a good thing is not always good for you, and a debate to determine the benefits versus the detriments of all the electronic marvels that have already taken over our lives would keep every lawyer in the world happily employed ‘til the end of time. A final interesting statistic from the study graded the “happiness score” of children in the industrialized world compared to those in the non-industrialized world. You can probably guess what the outcome of that comparison was. The children who were from what we often refer to as the “third world countries”, according to the study, showed more joy, contentment, and love of life than their counterparts in the “more highly developed and advantaged countries”. The study cited the less stressful nature and a more relaxed approach to life as major factors in determining the results. So, it sounds like if we want to get our happiness number back to where it ought to be, perhaps our ideas about making our world bigger, better, faster and cheaper ought to be moderated with just a little more of that good old-fashioned ingredient called, the human touch.