The United Nations recently released its 10th annual World Happiness Report. The report is based on data from more than 150 countries worldwide, and ranks each country based on a list of factors. This year, for the fifth year running, Finland topped the list; the United States moved up three spots to 16th.
How is a nation in the northern corner of the world, with a cold climate and six months of winter and darkness, the happiest in the world? Some top factors include activity – Finns are active, getting out to jog, bike, etc., despite the weather. Finland is also full of natural beauty, and it generally has a laid back culture, focused on co-operation instead of competition.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has presented some extraordinary challenges over the past year across the globe. To capture the “fullness of human happiness” during this time, the report focused on happiness, benevolence and trust. The report authors wrote, “As we battle the ills of disease and war, it is essential to remember the universal desire for happiness and the capacity of individuals to rally to each other’s support in times of great need.”
The report showed worldwide improvements in three measures of kindness and generosity: donating money, helping strangers, and volunteering. The global average of these three measures was up by 25% in 2021, compared with before the pandemic.
John Helliwell, one of the World Happiness Report editors said, “This surge of benevolence, which was especially great for the helping of strangers, provides powerful evidence that people respond to help others in need, creating in the process more happiness for the beneficiaries, good examples for others to follow, and better lives for themselves.”
The report was started as a way to help the world find the path to greater global well-being, and at a time with much painful news, maybe we should take a moment to consider how these findings reflect our own experiences. Have you helped a stranger today or done an act of kindness? Check out Matt Palmer’s recent article about generosity that includes three ways to be more generous and think about taking action to make this world a kinder place. Doing so might just be the first step toward a happier world!
Written by Michelle O’Brien, Manager of Marketing & Communications