Do you consider yourself happy? When you say you are happy, what is the indicator or measure of Happiness? Is it Money, Health, Fame, Family?
Kenya was ranked 124th out of 158 countries in the 2018 World Happiness Report. This is a drop from last year where we were ranked 112th. In Africa, Algeria is ranked as the happiest, followed by Mauritius while we stood at number 21.
This year’s top scorer is Finland who jumped up three places from 5th place and who ranks top of the Immigrants Happiness Levels. The preceding 9 in order of happiness are: Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia.
The report, put together by Gallup World Poll Surveys from 2015-2017, measures happiness against six key variables namely healthy life expectancy, income, having someone to count on in times of trouble, generosity, freedom and trust.
Interestingly, trust is measured by the absence of corruption in government. Perhaps a reason why we can never rank top of the Happiness report if our corruption ranking is anything to go by?
Despite our trust level being low, we still are ranked as the happiest country in East Africa thanks to Social Support and healthy life expectancy. How happier would we be if we would increase the trust level by fighting corruption? Food for thought.
What can we learn from the Happiness Report? First, we think there should be a National Happiness Day in Kenya. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) have a Minister of State for Happiness who oversees the UAE plans, programs and policies to achieve a happier society. Nigeria also recently appointer a Commissioner for Happiness and Couples Fulfilment.
The report has also given special attention to happiness in the workplace which is also key in increasing the happiness ranking of Kenya
In an ideal world, the workplace is supposed to add to our happiness but sadly, this is not the case among many workers. Of course, the level of happiness is different depending on the type of job one has or the industry they are in, their income level, and whether they have a reliable source of income or not.
As much as we believe that happiness in the workplace is because of better pay, it will be wrong to say that it is indeed, the only way. Needless to say; people who are paid better are a lot happier. Other factors that are equally if not more important are work-life balance- which most of us do not have, level of job autonomy and job variation.
The challenge therefore is to employers to ensure that they create an environment where employees thrive and that they contribute to the general well-being of an individual. Indeed, the business stands to benefit from a happy individual as they become more productive.
One of the things that is worthy of note in the report is the fact that we support each other. Being one of the measures of Happiness, support is a buffer for most of us when life happens. We are lucky that this is embedded in our culture in Kenya especially from family. Being something we excel in, we should carry on being our brother’s keeper and being ever ready to offer a shoulder to lean on.
The Government’s Role
One of the variables that Gallup Polls Surveys uses is Trust which is in relation to the absence of corruption in government. This is a call to our leaders to ensure that they address corruption. To echo the words of Jeffery Sachs, Director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, “The report gives evidence that happiness is as a result of creating strong social foundations. It’s time to build social trust and healthy lives, not guns and walls. Let’s hold our leaders to this fact”
All credit goes to Bhutan who shone the light on Happiness. The country’s Prime Minister was the first to propose a World Happiness Day to the United Nations and is also responsible for launching an international focus on happiness.
Consequently, The U.N. General Assembly declared March 20 as World Happiness Day in 2012, which has been celebrated since then.
We have all heard it before; Happiness is a state of mind. You can choose to be happy despite your current situation. We can give you 10 steps to a happier you or even list scientifically proven ways to a happier life but if it does not come from you, all that would be futile. So, search yourself, let happiness emanate from within you and without a doubt it will shine on the outside too!0