Happiness Report co-editor notes the importance of resilience and the ability to cope with bad things

This nation was in a state of deep sorrow in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosques atrocity, when the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network released its World Happiness Report.

The report ranks countries on six elements: freedom, generosity, healthy life expectancy, income, social support and trust.

Finland – a country known for its  long, dark winters and short summers bathed in almost continuous light – is number one after ranking fifth last year.

The top 10 countries tend to score highly in all six variables, as well as emotional measures of well-being, John Helliwell, co-editor of the report, told CNN.

This doesn’t mean the citizens of the high-ranking countries walk around smiling all the time.  Rather, they are able to push through in moments of crisis and sadness.

“What stands out about the happiest and most well connected societies is their resilience and ability to deal with bad things,” Helliwell said.

Point of Order checked out the Stuff report of the rankings and found a geographical error:

New Zealand, which ranked eighth this year (bested only by Nordic countries like Switzerland and the Netherlands), is one such resilient country.

Social support was one of the main factors for New Zealanders ranking so high in happiness. New Zealand is increasingly thinking about supporting well-being on a government, as well as individual or casual, level.

The Washington Post carried two reports, one of which was headed New Zealand is one of the world’s happiest countries. That also makes it resilient.

This was the source of the Stuff report but  – it should be noted – the editorial team in Washington didn’t make Stuff’s geographical error:

New Zealand, which ranked eighth this year (bested only by the Nordic countries, Switzerland and the Netherlands), is one such resilient country.

A second report in the Washington Post – in contrast – said Americans are the unhappiest they’ve ever been, U.N. report finds. An ‘epidemic of addictions’ could be to blame.

Moments after Jimmy Kimmel walked onto the set of his late-night show, he noted that Wednesday was a special day.

“Today is the happiest day of the year,” Kimmel said.

That may be true for Finland, which for the second consecutive year was crowned the happiest country in the world by the World Happiness Report, released Wednesday in conjunction with the United Nations’ International Day of Happiness.

But for the United States, not so much.

Americans are unhappy, according to the report, an annual list ranking the overall happiness levels of 156 countries — and it’s only getting worse.

For the third year in a row, the US has dropped in the ranking and now sits at No. 19, one spot lower than last year, according to the report produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a UN initiative. The top three spots this year were occupied by Finland, Denmark and Norway. At the bottom were Afghanistan, Central African Republic and South Sudan.

The United States’ current rank marks its worst showing since the report was first released in 2012. The country has never cracked the top 10, The Washington Post’s Amy B Wang reported in 2017.

Researchers posit the USA’s declining happiness is likely due to an “epidemic of addictions,” which includes everything from substance abuse and gambling to social media usage and risky sexual behaviors.

Another factor that may contribute to lower happiness levels is the increasing amount of time people, especially adolescents, are spending absorbed in their electronic devices, the report said.

In Britain, the Daily Mail reported the rankings under this heading: The world’s happiest countries REVEALED: Finland comes top while South Sudan is the bleakest as the UK climbs the table and the US falls to its lowest ranking EVER

Finland has been crowned the happiest country in the world for the second year in a row, leading a top ten that is made up of five Nordic nations.

The World Happiness Report, released today, ranked 156 countries by happiness levels, based on factors such as life expectancy, social support and corruption.

But while the Nordic nations of Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland topped the table, there was no sign of Britain in the top ten.

The UK placed 15th, up from 19th last year, one above Ireland and four above the US but Britain still trailed behind the likes of Israel, Austria, Costa Rica, Australia, Luxembourg, Canada and New Zealand.

The North African nation of South Sudan was at the bottom of the happiness index which found America was getting less happy each year even as the country became richer – falling from 14th place in two years.

The bottom ten also included Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Tanzania, Rwanda, Yemen, Malawi, Syria, Botswana, Haiti and Zimbabwe.

Russia was 68th – down from 59th – France 24th and China 93rd. at No. 19, one spot lower than last year.

In its report (headed Happiness and economic growth does not guarantee rising happiness), The Economist said:

Philosophers from Aristotle to the Beatles have argued that money does not buy happiness. But it seems to help. Since 2005 Gallup, a pollster, has asked a representative sample of adults from countries across the world to rate their life satisfaction on a scale from zero to ten. The headline result is clear: the richer the country, on average, the higher the level of self-reported happiness. The simple correlation suggests that doubling GDP per person lifts life satisfaction by about 0.7 points.

Yet the prediction that as a country gets richer its mood will improve has a dubious record. In 1974 Richard Easterlin, an economist, discovered that average life satisfaction in America had stagnated between 1946 and 1970 even as GDP per person had grown by 65% over the same period. He went on to find a similar disconnect in other places, too.

Income is correlated with happiness when looking across countries and economic downturns are reliable sources of temporary misery.  But long-term GDP growth does not seem to be enough to turn the average frown upside-down.

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