Measuring what matters: does money buy happiness?

Watching the news of more than a million migrants crossing Europe to escape war in their own countries, mainly from Syria, makes me reflect on what really matters in life. One tends to take for granted everything they crave and we already have: friends to rely on, family, health, a home, a job, a future… a great variety of options that only developed countries enjoy. Is all this making us happier?

But, what is happiness anyway?

The 2016 World Happiness Report released today ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels. And I wonder: how can you possibly measure happiness? Or even: what the heck for? In their own words, leading experts across fields describe in this report how measurements of well-being can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations. The goal is to create an ethical system, a principle that can “inspire and unite people of all ages from all backgrounds and all cultures.” As easy as pie, it seems…

Top 10 countries are:

Bottom 10 countries are:

Happiness is not all about well-being, which is more likely to be measured with numbers in the same way that our economy is, with GDP being the most effective indicator. According to experts, a wealthier society does not necessarily mean a happier one. Besides, what makes one person happy may be a totally different kettle of fish for another person. Is it the right balance between your work and your personal life? Can we come up with an effective measuring system irrespective of the culture and the standard of living of each society?

Since 2000 there has been an enormous boom in studies of what is called ‘the science of happiness,’ a matter that has been bothering humanity for millennia. There are numerous studies out there trying to quantify happiness but it appears it is just about impossible to have an index accountable to all of the world’s countries. Do we really need an international happiness index, or can we work it out for ourselves?

Honestly, I really think I have found my secret to achieve pure happiness, and it is as simple as fulfilling my childhood dreams!

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