Monday, March 21, 2016
Happy Monday! I hope you had a good weekend. Thank you for your sweet comments on my Friday Happies. I'm glad so many others would have snapped up the Talavera pottery planter as quickly as I did. It's beautiful! I can't wait to plant flowers in it, in just a few more weeks. I'm thinking about white flowers, maybe geraniums or begonias, something simple, crisp and clean-looking, to let the colors in the pottery really shine. It won't be long before I can bring out my Talavera birdbath, which I always keep in the backyard planter bed during the warmer months. The hummingbird feeders can come out soon too; April 1 is "opening day" for hummingbirds in my neck of the woods. Spring is really here now. Yes, it often felt spring-like for a long while already, but the passing of the equinox makes it feel so much more official.
We had a nice weekend, full of homey pursuits and schoolwork, but also a lovely afternoon with friends at their house in the mountains, complete with a campfire, kids and dogs running wild, and delicious food, including pulled-pork sandwiches and Muddy Buddies. I hadn't eaten that since about high school and it was hard to keep my hands out of the bowl, especially with pastel-colored M&M's added. Yesterday, after a morning of work in the yard, we did some painting for fun. The Bear painted a watercolor picture of my daffodils in their crochet-jacketed jar. I think it's the bee's knees and I love the way they look next to each other. My talented Bear.
Did you know that yesterday was World Happiness Day? Yes, it's a real thing. The celebration coincided with the release of the United Nations' World Happiness Report last week. This is a study conducted by the UN to better understand what makes a country's citizens happy, or not. There are several major criteria, including per-capita gross domestic product, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and the absence of corruption.
It turns out that Denmark is the happiest country on earth, while Burundi is the least happy. The United States ranks 13th, which actually surprised me; I might have guessed that we ranked less-happily than that, especially given the social climate in our current election year. But I'm certainly no economist or social scientist, and it's probably a very inaccurate way to assess the happiness of our country as a whole. There are a lot of great things about the US and I feel much better about my country when I turn off the talk-radio. My own life is mostly a very happy one; I have a lovely little family and many good friends, an excellent education, access to quality healthcare, everything I need materially and then some. I've never felt persecuted or oppressed. I think I'm very fortunate overall.
For me, one important take-away from the Happiness Report is this: money does not seem to buy happiness. It's true that poverty and poor infrastructure in a nation had a negative effect on its happiness score. But it seems to be the case that money matters up until a certain point, where basic needs are met, and then it becomes less important. Case in point: the US has a higher GDP than many of the countries in the top 10, but we have never ranked in the top 10 in the five years that the UN has done this study. We aren't happier because we're richer.
In addition, from my reading, it would seem to be a bad thing when a country focuses too much on just one area of national happiness, such as social support or GDP; a more balanced focus on all of the main areas usually means a happier nation. It's no wonder that many experts think the US needs to emulate countries that have better social support, as one example, and that economic growth should not come at the expense of social well-being.
You can read the World Happiness Report here. You have to download various parts, but it's a worthwhile read.
What country do you live in? Where does it rank in the happiness report? Do you agree with the UN's ranking of your country? What are the best things about your country? What improvements would you like to see?