According to the United Nations, Finland is the happiest people in the world. But, for the World Happiness Report to compare self-reports of happiness, they assume that the world defines happiness in the same way.
Research on how people across the globe perceive happiness shows significant differences among nations. Understanding the diversity can help you understand yourself - how you differ, what you might do about it, or making peace with it.
MORE IDEAS FROM Different Cultures Define Happiness Differently
Forty-nine percent of Americans mentions family relationships in their definition of happiness. In comparison, only 22 percent of Portuguese, 18 percent of Mexican, and 10 percent of Argentines consider their families in their definition of happiness.
Western cultures define happiness as a high arousal state such as excitement and a sense of personal achievement, but Asia described happiness as experiencing a low arousal state such as calmness.
At first glance, there seem to be commonalities in the ways people experience happiness. A 2016 study found that the most common definition of happiness is "an inner harmony, feeling or attitude."
But inner harmony can mean different things in different places. For example, the Danes describe inner harmony in terms of hygge, which is like a comfortable friendliness. Americans usually define inner harmony in the context of work, where their skills meet their passions.
We can generally distinguish between two ways of viewing happiness: The inner or outer focus on happiness and the relation or task focus.
In 2016, Denmark was ranked as the happiest nation globally, even though it is dark for 16 hours a day in midwinter.
The annual World Happiness Report assesses criteria such as per capita income, life expectancy, people's freedom to make life decisions, generosity, social support, and government and business corruption.
Even if the economy is growing, income inequality and stagnant wages can make people feel less secure as their relative status in the economy diminishes. Behavioural economists have shown that "our status compared to other people, our happiness, is derived more by relative measures and distribution then by absolute measures. If that’s true then capitalism has a problem.
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