The World Happiness Report (2013) has recently been published. The report describes international happiness data on how people rate both their emotions and their lives as a whole.
It measures happiness in three ways
- Measures of positive emotions (positive affect)
- Measures of negative emotions (negative affect)
- Evaluations of life as a whole
The idea here is that people who are emotionally happier, who have more satisfying lives, and who live in happier communities, are more likely to be healthier, have meaningful and satisfying relationships and contribute to society. This kind of makes sense when you consider the opposite of happiness: someone who may be so unhappy that they are depressed. People who experience depression generally experience a rage of problems that affects their work, relationships and their overall well-being. People who are depressed often say they find it hard to achieve all of the things they want to in life. There are also clear links between depression and poor physical health.
We achieve happiness through activities, relationships, work and leisure. So, it would seem that happiness is the key to a better life! The issue is, of course, how to improve happiness at a national level. Here at Virtually Free we are very supportive of things like the World Happiness Report that focus on measures other than GDP for nations to pay attention to. Unless we measure happiness we will not know if what we do makes a difference or not.