Tuesday, September 10, 2013

World Happiness: Finally, a way to tell how happy you are (also unhappy)

By Jim Heffernan

Happy days are here again? (Note question mark.) 

Well, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times reprinted in the Duluth daily newspaper, everyone on planet Earth is 0.5 percent happier in the last two years (2010-’12) than they were from 2005-2007.

I am not a bit surprised. I know I’m feeling about that much happier over the same period. Well, maybe not exactly that much. Things have been going OK, so I’d say I’m maybe 0.6 or 0.7 percent happier than I was five years ago, taking into account even that I’m five years older.

You’re probably wondering who compiles these important statistics. Well, aside from taking no action on Syria, you’ve got to hand it to the United Nations, that world organization housed in a really tall building in New York City that, intentionally or not, resembles a tombstone.

Yes, the 2013 World Happiness Report was put out by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Who even knew that unit even existed, and, like me, you’re wondering if on second reference it can be referred to as the UNSDSN. I usually get confused by initials of things, except, of course, the most common ones you see all the time like BWCA (Bad Water Closet Accommodations).

But we were talking about happiness. You were, of course, wondering where people are the happiest. It will surprise no one to learn that the happiest countries on Earth are Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands and (whew!) Sweden. I am more than a little surprised to learn that Norway is happier than Sweden, but at least they both made the top five.

The United States is ranked as the 17th-happiest country, but that is expected to go up the minute Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Moon) leaves office. And the least happy country? Togo (ranked No. 156).

The report on least-happiest is not referring to the Togo in Northern Minnesota, over in Itasca County between Cook and Effie (slogan: “Where the pavement ends and the north begins”), but rather the Togo in West Africa – the Togo just south of Burkina Faso (slogan: “Where the Sahara ends and unhappiness begins”). And yeah, you never heard of Burkina Faso. Neither had I. We’ll have to brush up on our geography.

But enough about world happiness. We were mainly concerned with MY happiness. Well, not the “we” that includes you, but rather the editorial we that only includes me. Not to be selfish.

Reviewing the past several years, as stated above, I am 0.6 or 0.7 percent happier now than I was five years ago. But I was much happier in the weeks just before I was born. It drops pretty fast after you enter the world, according to UNSDSN.

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