How do you measure happiness? When a rain makes someone happy, somebody else is happy with sunshine. It is very relative. We heard that happiness is formally perceived by the life expectancy and survey to people on the question “How Happy are you?” in a 10 point scale. Accumulated results for a country are being averaged to get the happiness index. In 2010, a survey to find out top 10 happiest countries determined the following rank:
|Ranking (left Column)
||Ranking (right Column)
Note: Some person in the same article comments/contradict and talks about above list, where we see 5 matches out of 9 with the left column, so I take the left column as okay for our analysis.
I tried to understand what make people happy with some demographic data on these countries and some other courtiers like China, India, USA and finally wanted to contrast them with our condition in Bangladesh.
40 years ago, Gross national Happiness was defined first. Currently based on lucky seven wellness the GNH is measured as Economic, Environmental, Physical, Mental, Workspace, Social and Political wellness. A Slogan in Thimphu’s School of Traditional Arts displays “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product”.
If we generalize the demographics of these countries (with minor exception), we can say, a country in the top 10 list has a GDP over USD 35k (exception Guatemala), livable area is less than 200k sq.mi (exception is Australia and Canada) and population is less than 35 million.
In reality, there are other factors from our known factors come in place.
- US is the 17th rank in the happiness list, but Anxiety disorders in the U.S. affecting 40 million adults (18% of U.S. population) cost more than $42 billion a year (adaa.org).
- Majority of the countries in the list are having aging population.
- In general, happiness has a relationship with hygiene factors (minimal need satisfying) in living, while wealth CANNOT be the pre-condition for happiness (it’s easier to make a poor person happy than a wealthy person, just think about Maslow’s need hierarchy).
- Happiness shifts over time, based on the need shift and its context shift.
- The green population has more dreams and aims. (Happiness is man’s greatest aim in life. Tranquility and rationality are the cornerstones of happiness. ~ Epicurus.)
In Bangladesh we cannot raise our GDP from 1.7k to to 35K in a single day; it might be away from decades after decades of hard-work. We also can not reduce our population density to one fifth to fit into that of top ten happy countries, while we strategically think our people are our resources and the majority is in the group of youth (GREEN).
I got the opportunities to interact with the people of listed happy societies in their own context. In contrast, I found Bangladeshi people are generally more relaxed and happy, as majority of our people have never been exposed to so called “Quality of Life”, the words has been mentioned to me many times by the people in the developed countries. The perspective of happiness is different here. If I talk about GREEN HEROES, a Rickshaw-puller is happy with a mid day nap under the shade of a green tree, while a street kid is happy with his freedom, be it insecure.
The picture obviously depicts that happiness revolves around childhood and youth by virtue. The happiness is there, but is not sustainable as these happy people do not exist after some real storm to their lives with the act of reality. This happiness can be sustained though creating current and future opportunities for the unprivileged child and youth. I want to name it as GREEN HAPPINESS to come up with forthcoming activates in coming day.
All of your ideas, thoughts and positive criticism around it would be highly appreciated would really be helpful to take it forward.