Studies consistently show that happiness has an independent and powerful impact on physical health. So, with the GWI recently launching the Wellness Moonshot: A World Free of Preventable Disease, the organization traveled to the United Nations in NYC on March 20 to get the latest insights from the annual World Happiness Report. A key finding: If you’re seeking happiness, you might want to emigrate to a Nordic nation…as Finland was the happiest nation this year, with Denmark, Switzerland and Norway taking the other top spots. Togo was the biggest gainer, and Venezuela the biggest loser.
And the U.S. has taken a significant recent happiness dive, with obesity, depression and the opioid crisis growing faster and further than in other nations. The economist authors of the report noted that there is a “very unsettling signal coming through that U.S. society is…under profound stress, even though the economy by traditional measures is doing fine…(their) comparative (happiness) position relative to other high-income countries is nothing short of alarming.”
The 2018 World Happiness Report also showed (again) the extraordinary importance of social factors in the happiness of all populations. For instance, Chapter 6 analyzes the striking “happiness bulge” in Latin America, which depends on the greater warmth of family and other social relationships, and to the greater importance that people there attach to these relationships. Which is why, despite many Latin American nations being poor and unhealthy, they register such outsized happiness scores.
This year’s report also focused heavily on how migration affects happiness. Most notably, it found that the happiness of a country’s immigrants is almost identical to that of its population at large — indicating that, “people essentially adjust to the average happiness level of the country they’re moving to.”
We all have much to learn from the nations getting human happiness right – and it isn’t all about money or physical health. And happiness is no longer some vague concept; it’s a hard science.
The annual World Happiness Report offers some crucial lessons for the wellness world, and anyone whose business is health and well-being.