Saturday, July 29, 2006

One Happy World

"Many people think that if they were only in some other place, or had some other job, they would be happy. Well, that is doubtful. So get as much happiness out of what you are doing as you can and don't put off being happy until some future date." — Dale Carnegie

Adrian White, an analytic social psychologist from England's University of Leicester, has found what makes him happy — measuring other people's happiness.

After years of research, Prof. White has discovered just how happy the world is. He has ranked the nations of the world by their Happiness Factor, and even created an interactive map.

Disneyland may claim to be the happiest place on Earth, but that honor actually goes to Denmark, according to White. Switzerland, Austria, Iceland and the Bahamas round out the top five.

Battling it out for the title of Most Miserable Nation of Earth (the bottom five, of 178 countries ranked) are Burundi (the "winner"), Zimbabwe, Congo Democratic, Moldova, and Ukraine. All but Ukraine are in Africa.

The United States ranks as 23rd happiest (or 155th most miserable), and England, Prof. White's home country, is #41 on the Happy Meter. Of England he says it's not so much that health, wealth and education (the three main factors in his measurement of happiness) aren't in abundance, but that the British "worry well."

Israel (#58) and Lebanon (#113) were already miserable enough before they began making each other more unhappy by shooting missles at each other.

Notably not just unhappy but "not even on the map" are Greenland, Western Sahara, Iraq, Afganistan, Burma and Somalia. The first two are probably because Prof. White couldn't find anyone to talk to. The rest were too busy just trying to survive to answer his survey questions.

"We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about." — Charles Kingsley (1819 - 1875)

"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." — Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865)

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." — The Dalai Lama (1935 - )

"People who learn to control inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their lives, which is as close as any of us can come to being happy." — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, 1990

"No man is happy who does not think himself so." — Publilius Syrus (~100 BC), Maxims

"A happy life consists in tranquillity of mind." — Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC)

"The world of the happy is quite different from that of the unhappy." — Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889 - 1951), Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

"I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances." — Martha Washington (1732 - 1802)

"Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city." — George Burns (1896 - 1996)

"If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have paradise in a few years." — Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970)

"Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities." — Aldous Huxley (1894 - 1963), Vendeta for the Western World

"Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values." — Ayn Rand (1905 - 1982)

"Man is the artificer of his own happiness." — Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)

"Seek not happiness too greedily, and be not fearful of happiness." — Lao-tzu (604 BC - 531 BC)

"Do not speak of your happiness to one less fortunate than yourself." — Plutarch (46 - 120)

"Happiness depends upon ourselves." — Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC)

Fun fact: "One Happy World" was the phrase on mandatory bumper stickers on all the cars in the Philip K. Dick novel Time Out of Joint.

Thanks to GrouchoGandhi for the Happy Earth graphic.

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