World Happiness Report shines a light in dark times | The Optimist Daily
Today’s Solutions: July 14, 2024

The past few years have been incredibly challenging for the world, though it turns out we’re doing better than you might think!  According to an international research project, levels of social support and benevolence actually increased in this difficult time.

This year is the 10th anniversary of the World Happiness Report, which uses data from the self-evaluation surveys of over nine million people living in over 150 countries to track the happiness of the global population.

Acts of kindness increase

As the largest public study on kindness also concluded, acts of kindness around the world markedly increased during harrowing times. “We found during 2021 remarkable worldwide growth in all three acts of kindness monitored in the Gallup World Poll. 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,” explained Professor John Helliwell from the University of British Columbia.

“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.”

Finland takes the gold

Finland took first place for a fifth year in a row as the happiest country in the world. The rest of the top ten in descending order are: Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway, Israel, and New Zealand. This year, the top three countries for the largest increase in happiness were Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania.

Although it’s important to dwell on the positive side of this report, it’s also vital to use it as a stark reminder of which populations are still experiencing hardship. The biggest losses of overall happiness were Lebanon, Venezuela, and Afghanistan, showing the effect that war and governmental crises have on the quality of life and happiness.

“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 Christopher Barrington-Leigh, who was involved in the study.

Using these data can help the nations of the world craft policies to increase wellbeing standards for its populations and also help understand which are the most in need of aid and support.

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