Happiness is an island
Tiny Vanuatu is the happiest country in the world, Singapore the unhappiest in Asia, says new report
TODAY, Thursday • July 13, 2006
LONDON — Vanuatu, a tiny South Pacific Ocean archipelago with a population of around 200,000, is the happiest country on Earth, while Zimbabwe is the unhappiest, according to a study published yesterday measuring people's wellbeing and their impact on the environment.
Among the Asian nations Vietnam came highest at number 12 and Singapore was ranked lowest at 131, said the 178-country Happy Planet Index, compiled by the British think-tank New Economics Foundation (NEF).
Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica and Panama completed the top five in the world, it said. African countries along with Zimbabwe made up seven of the bottom 10.
The Group of Eight industrial powers meet in Russia this weekend but have not much to smile about, according to the index.
Italy came out best in 66th place, ahead of Germany (81), Japan (95), Britain (108), Canada (111), France (129), the United States (150) and Russia, in lowly 172nd place.
The index attempts to measure how well countries use their resources to deliver longer lives, greater physical well-being and satisfaction.
Mr Andrew Simms, NEF's policy director, said the index "addresses the relative success or failure of countries in giving their citizens a good life while respecting the environmental resource limits on which all our lives depend".
So what is Vanuatu's secret?
"Don't tell too many people, please," said Mr Marke Lowen of Vanuatu Online, the island republic's online newspaper. "People are generally happy here because they are very satisfied with very little," he told The Guardian.
"This is not a consumer-driven society. Life here is about community and family and goodwill to other people. It's a place where you don't worry too much."
"The only things we fear are cyclones or earthquakes." — Agencies
Marke Lowen's comment reminds of a little equation which my blogging friend Stephan Wissel once mentioned to me:
If your expectations are close to zero, you're close to infinite happiness. :)
In Singapore, the government tries to encourage happiness by attempting to make us believe that our achievements are greater than they really are. The results of the Happy Planet Index study suggests that our government must either try harder, or give up.
Technorati: Singapore; Happy Planet Index; happiness.