If you watch or read the news, you probably have noticed a great deal of space taken up with violence world wide. Terrorists, bombings, war, and crime are themes that attract so much attention, a day will not go by without some mention of at least one of these topics. We claim that we are tired of hearing all this negativity, however, the media provides the public with what it demands. Unfortunately, like an addiction, people are attracted to violence whether they realize it or not.
I started to wonder, would people (culturally not individually) be just as attracted to a concept that diminishes the feelings of hate and violence; the concept of “HAPPINESS?” When we hear about a terminal child’s last wish be granted or about puppies that were rescued from abuse and adopted to good caring homes, it puts a smile on our faces and a warm feeling in our hearts. These type of stories make us feel better about the world we live in because it shows how good triumphs over evil. It seems, however, that these stories are a mere “fix” (like a drug addict experiences) to give us enough energy to return to patterns of interest in violence and other forms of negativity that are destructive in nature. As I express these sentiments, please realize I am referring to societal patterns of behavior, not individual patterns.
I decided to research the concept of “HAPPINESS” and found that the United States ranked 15th in the world according to the 2015 World Happiness Report. YES, IT REALLY EXISTS! (Helliwell, John F., Richard Layard, and Jeffrey Sachs, eds. 2015. World Happiness Report 2015.) The most powerful nation with the best available technology, the best available colleges and a democratic form of government that offers the greatest amount of freedom to the individual of any country in the world only ranked 15th!
Happiness was based on the following parameters:
- GDP per capita
- absence of corruption
- social support
- healthy life expectancy
What I found interesting was this report (which few people even know exists) ranked the United States in 11th place back in 2012. This means that the United States as a whole has become “MORE UNHAPPY” over the last 3 years. Did you know that the United States ranked in the top 1/3 worldwide in suicide rate as well? (“Suicide rates per 100,000 by country, year and sex (Table)”. World Health Organization. 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-26.) Yet, if you ask most Americans, they will tell you they live in the best country in the world.
Can any country be the “BEST” if the people are not truly happy?
Maybe we need to step back and re-evaluate some of our values and redefine our definition of “BEST” to help promote a happier and HEALTHIER way to live. If we begin to think in this new paradigm, it is possible our fantasies with violence, anger and hatred will be replaced with caring, sharing, helping and loving. We might be more inclined to do more for others, because it makes us feel good (HAPPY) to do so. Maybe a simpler way of thinking and living can make the United States not only the BEST country in the world, but the HAPPIEST one as well.