20 Jul 2015

Happiness and Wellbeing

A poll of 145,000 people has decided we’re a pretty miserable nation. We came 44th out of 145 countries worldwide for wellbeing, in a poll conducted by experts Gallup-Healthways.

The report interviewed 145,000 people and ranked them for several measurements of wellbeing, such as physical health, social relationships and community involvement.
The report says, “The countries doing ‘best’ aren’t the wealthiest - they’re ones where people feel at peaceand where its population felt they were ‘thriving’ ”.

Notably, Afghanistan, where UK & US forces have spent years fighting the Taliban and Al Khaida at a cost of thousands of lives and billions of pounds, is the unhappiest country. That certainly questions the value of our intervention, for both them and us.

The epidemiologists who authored “Spirit Level” provided all the evidence anyone could need to back up this poll’s findings. But the “happiness” question is one we have to raise constantly. As UK citizens we are asked to embrace “punching above our weight” and “being more competitive” as our self-interested national and internationalist view. At home individuals, by embracing the “shop 'til we drop” mantra, are to simultaneously feed the great growth god and feel better about themselves. I’m amazed we managed to come 44th.

When people are really challenged as to what is most important to them, it is usually health and family security. We are all challenged to find a way to build on that instinct to combat the cruelty of neo-liberal, anti-austerity policies and replace them with some that both recognise and extend the reach of what we all really value.

Guest Blogger: Gerald Hartley

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