While reading the last year published the UN World Happiness Report, I could not grasp why some countries are constantly competing on the so called happiness ranking and what it really means for our economies?
I will tell you. Not much. Why? Because such and similar report are flooded with all types of limiting factors and paradoxes. I understand that there is also a new academic filed of ‘happiness studies’. Furthermore, the fact is that happiness mapping and measurement as concept is already established, hence, present in our realities and analysed.
While people generally feel the happiness is something intangible which in any circumstances can be numbered, new approach is increasingly popular among governments that want to shift beyond economic growth as a measure of nation value and progress.
What is happiness after all? As understood by those who monitor and measure, happiness combination of our internal and mental psyche. Economists have been too increasingly using neuroscience in their efforts to provide an objective and comparable measure. Yet, as underlined above there are many serious limitations to these behavioral economic and neuro-scientific explanations. Let’s take as an example culture. There are paradoxes too, I mean that even mentally ill persons can feel happy in his/her world. Furthermore, let’s take example at some super developed and rich Nordic countries (not to name them) – some of the ‘happiest nations’ according to surveys and reports. Yet, nations in these same countries are also known for the highest suicide rates!
Creating condition to promote ‘well-being’ may in fact be driven by a sense of discontent and unhappiness with States too. As a matter of fact I believe that less happy people are more likely to be politicians and politically engaged rather than other ‘categories’ of ‘normal people’. I can judge at least from Croatia’s point of view whereby there are so many medical doctors who left their vocational (if there ever was, I doubt) and turned into politics and new roles of politicians.
Consequently, all these limitations and paradoxes should be take into consideration in these so called ‘happiness studies and reports’. I mean tracking happiness is OK but before we use ‘scientific maps’ to determine how we are governed, we need first to understand what happens to our happiness when it turns into an emotion to be mapped, measure and managed.
Of course we can and we should long to manage our emotions successfully not be me managed by an emotion itself. But that’s another topic about emotions and how do we manage (do not) manage them.
So, what’s happiness? For me personally it’s a state of mind. From the business and success point of view, Happiness is to wish what you have already achieved, whereby success is to achieve what you want. Happiness is also like a wind. You can not see it – but you can feel it!
So, opt always for happiness that you can find within yourself.