Well, the World Happiness Report 2022 shows that a bright light exists in dark times. The report points out that the pandemic brought not only pain and suffering but also an increase in social support and benevolence.
A team of international researchers, including McGill University Professor Christopher Barrington-Leigh, compiled the report. The authors mention that as the world battles the ills of disease and war, it is especially important to remember the universal desire for happiness and the capacity of individuals to rally to each other’s support in times of great need.
“ Covid 19 is the biggest health crisis we have seen in more than a century,” says Professor John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia. “Now that we have two years of evidence, we are able to assess not just the importance of benevolence and trust, but to see how they have contributed to well-being during the pandemic.”
GROWTH IN ACTS OF KINDNESS
The authors say that they found remarkable worldwide growth in all three acts of kindness during 2021. “Helping strangers, volunteering, and donations in 2021 were strongly up in every part of the world, reaching levels almost 25% above their pre-pandemic prevalence. This surge of benevolence, which was especially great for the helping of strangers, provides powerful evidence that people respond to help others in need, creating in the process more happiness for the beneficiaries, good examples for others to follow, and better lives for themselves,” Helliwell said.
FINLAND ON TOP SPOT
For the fifth year in a row, Finland takes the top spot as the happiest nation in the world. This year its score was significantly ahead of other countries in the top ten. Denmark continues to occupy second place, with Iceland up from fourth place last year to third this year. Switzerland is in fourth place, followed by the Netherlands and Luxembourg. The top ten are rounded out by Sweden, Norway, Israel and New Zealand. The next five are Austria, Australia, Ireland, Germany and Canada, in that order.
“The downward trend for Canada is significant and has been going on steadily for years. While Canada once ranked beside the Scandinavian countries, it now ranks closer to the United States in people’s overall evaluation of how good their lives felt,” says Leigh.. United States stands at 16th position (up from 19th last year), the UK and the Czechia are in 17th and 18th places, followed by Belgium at 19th and France at 20 th position.
CONFLICT IN AFGHANISTAN TAKES A TOLL
Wellbeing Research Centre Director at the University of Oxford Jan-Emmanuel De Neve said; “”At the very bottom of the ranking we find societies that suffer from conflict and extreme poverty notably we find that people in Afghanistan evaluate the quality of their own lives as merely 2.4 out of 10. This presents a stark reminder of the material and immaterial damage that war does to its many victims and the fundamental importance of peace and stability for human wellbeing,”
“The World Happiness Report is changing the conversation about progress and wellbeing. It provides important snapshots of how people around the world feel about the overall quality of their lives,” says Barrington-Leigh. According to the researchers, this information can in turn help countries to craft policies aimed at achieving happier societies,
Past reports have looked at the links between people’s trust in government and institutions with happiness. The findings demonstrate that communities with high levels of trust are happier and more resilient in the face of a wide range of crises.
- Trust and benevolence have, if anything, become more important. Higher institutional trust continues to be linked to lower death rates from COVID-19 to a greater extent in 2021 than in 2020.
- Well-being inequality has generally grown since 2011, especially in Sub Saharan Africa, MENA, Latin America, and South and Southeast Asia
- Positive emotions have generally been twice as prevalent as negative ones. That gap has been narrowing over the past ten years, with enjoyment and laughter on a negative trend in most regions and worry and sadness on rising trends (with the general exception of Central and Eastern Europe), over the past decade.
- The trend growth in worry and sadness has been greatest in South Asia, Latin America, MENA, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
- Anger has remained low and stable in the global average, with large increases in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa offset by trend declines elsewhere.