How happy are we?

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands………..

Well, the people of Denmark must be clapping hard and loud. The Scandinavian country, which has a population of around 5.6 million, has officially reclaimed its place as the happiest nation in the world. It knocked Switzerland into second place to take the title of the happiest country in the 2016 World Happiness Report.

The report was published by the UN ahead of its International Day of Happiness on March 20, complete with insights into how the most cheerful countries got that way. It ranks countries by happiness levels using factors such as per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and healthy years of life expectancy. It also rates "having someone to count on in times of trouble" and freedom from corruption in government and business.

This is the fourth World Happiness Report since 2012. Denmark topped the list in the first report and again in 2013, but was displaced by Switzerland last year. Back on top again, residents are saying the reason behind their nation clinching the top spot in the list of 156 countries was because they had “no worries”.

Three out of four for Denmark – that’s no mean achievement! So what makes the country stand out, what makes its citizens apparently so contented and happy? Benjamin Radcliff, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Notre Dame and author of the book The Political Economy of Human Happiness, notes that one of the most important reasons the Danes enjoy such a high quality of life is because of a government that attempts to govern in the interest of ordinary citizens.

Aha, a government that cares for its citizens and tries to make their life better and easier! I guess Thomas Jefferson was on to something when he said, “The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the only legitimate object of good government.”

All these got me thinking about us. How would we fare if Nagaland is to be rated on the factors mentioned – value of economic activity and revenue generated within our borders, social security and support system, freedom from corruption and a government that actually governs and acts for the good of the people.

You know where we are today – you do the math. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to ask, “What do we have to be happy about?” Sounds bleak, but it says as much if we’re to go by the indicators in our context. Wouldn’t you like to be born again as a Dane just to experience what it’s like to have a government that cares and works in your interest? I would.

Professor Jeffrey Sachs, co-author of the Happiness Report and special adviser to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, also made an observation I found very interesting. Speaking about the United States which came in at 13, he said: "There is a very strong message for my country, the United States, which is very rich, has gotten a lot richer over the last 50 years, but has gotten no happier. The message for the United States is clear. For a society that just chases money, we are chasing the wrong things." 

Something to think about, huh?