Are you happy?
On a scale on 1 – 10 with 1 being the lowest meaning least happy and 10 happiest. At what point on the scale are you?
Recently, a research group called New Economics Foundation released a study using the ‘Happy Planet Index’ stating the countries with the most content people. It is important to note that the research took into consideration the ecological footprint and life expectancy of the countries.
So the results are out and three countries from the Caribbean top the list with Costa Rica number one followed by Dominican Republic and Jamaica.
Since I am from Jamaica, a section of this article will refer to that country.
As most people may know Jamaica is known globally for the reggae icon Bob Marley and also the fact that we have the best beaches with amazing hotels to compliment it. The island is dubbed ‘the island of wood and water’. However, the island is also known for its high crime rate (one of the highest in the world), horrible economic conditions and other horrible statistics (inflation etc). Jamaicans were shocked and were wondering how the hell in the world they could be considered one of the happiest nations in the world. The nation is constantly bombarded with high unemployment figures and constant criminal reports in the media. If I may say, if a report came out stating that Jamaica is one of the saddest place to live then most would agree knowing our situation here at home. What is also amazing at this time is that Forbes Magazine names Jamaica among the top 10 countries in the world hardest hit by the global recession and stating that it will take many years to recover.
This research however was clearly different. It took into consideration the ecological footprint and life expectancy of the nation. The ecological footprint is a measure of human demand on the Earth’s ecosystems. Life expectancy is the average number of years that citizens are expected to live within a country.
With these combinations Costa Rica was named the happiest nation on earth. Essentially what the research is saying is that in Costa Rica has a high life expectancy of 78.5 years and are able to do things minimally affecting the environment. Only 99% of its energy comes from renewable sources; surely a lesson for USA.
So the case in Jamaica is similar, citizens here are able to live long while doing so cheaply thus not harming the environment. What is mind boggling though is that most expected those in first world countries to top the list. Why aren’t they? They may not have long life expectancy and most of these countries are damaging the environment.
However, the research has called on individuals to self analyze themselves and consider how happy they are personally with their lives. Personally, if I should have taken that survey I might not be that happy. I am currently working on a gig but I am unemployed, I do not have job security. Therefore, my report card would be maybe just average. I am happy in terms of I am able to sustain myself, providing to eat and clothe (because of my parents/family) but other factors that one would consider in the total package I fall short which would tilt my level of happiness one way.
Many persons globally are not happy. We are in a global recession now, persons losing jobs left, right and centre, no health care coverage and the miseries continue. Life can be a mess. This research however should tell a striking message to those who live better than others. Most times we think that those with all the cash to care are happy. We are now seeing with the biggest celebrities that all the money in the world will never buy you happiness. It seems those that live at the extreme are most times happier. Many individuals will never give up their countries to live in the top three happiest countries in the world, but it will remain a fact those who live within their means are always happy.
The next time you wish you had more, you may just be giving up your happiness.