DLW is an occasional blog about how people spend the time of their lives (every moment) to enable health, balance, meaning and fulfillment. As a blogspot about doing, it draws from personal stories and from studies of everyday living. It's main idea is that to be well, people must be involved fully in what they do. The activities that occupy our days help to connect us to the world, define who we are, and keep us healthy.

Friday, May 29, 2009

More on the world's happiest countries

Previous posts have discussed the comparative data among countries using measures of happiness or subjective well being. Sometimes, the fact that two different measures are used causes confusion. One measure, used by Martin Seligman to measure "authentic happiness" as described in his book, is the simpler of the two. It measures happiness by asking people how happy they are. A second measure also asks people how happy they are but adds a second dimension called satisfaction. That measure is called a subjective well being score and is used in the World Values Surveys done at the University of Michigan.

Using the second (subjective well being) measure, the following countries rank in the top five across the globe: 1. Nigeria 2. Mexico 3. Venezuela 4. El Salvador and 5. Puerto Rico. At first blush, it is obvious that these countries have something in common: they each have large numbers of relatively poor people, suggesting that money does not equate with happiness. The list brings to mind another truth, which is this: Happiness is a state of mind, and as such, people have complete control over it. If people make the best of their circumstances, they can create the conditions necessary for happiness. One wonders if there is a cultural characteristic about poverty that enables people to see the best in their circumstances, which in turn influences their sense of well being?

I have two friends, both professionals, who respectively are from Nigeria and Puerto Rico. They are both positive energy emoting people. That is, they bring good feelings to situations, in comparison with others who seem to work hard in the opposite direction. Each of these persons also share the trait of valuing things that make a difference in the longer term, while also taking care to make each moment a particular pleasure for themselves and others.

In future blogposts I will explore this notion further. As always, if you have observations about anything on this topic or others that pertains to doing life well, please share it with us!


  1. Though I've stopped by to read this post before, perhaps it struck something in me as I read today on this Father's Day. ...

    Your study cited is a little different than the one my father just found (from the University of Michigan) which listed several of the world's happiest countries.. though not as many poor one's were ranked up as high as in your quoted study, the U.S. ranked 16th.. fairly well down the list. It was the outlook and lifestyle of the top countries that seemed to play the most importance in the happiness scale.

    I have always been fascinated by the concept of "happiness". I continue to think of the notion of happiness as more temporal and emotion based (happy & sad) and do believe there is beauty in the spectrum. Yet too, it is the subjective well being that looks at a number of factors (i.e. health, wellness etc.) .. I consider joy a more permanent state and too believe that the idea of well being is so deeply important. Perhaps today on father's day this came to mind as though my father has the financial wealth from his investing and former work, he never has spent much on himself (only on others), and has always focused on lifestyle decisions and relationships as the key to personal wellness. .. Though personally he's had many hardships, he too is one of the most positive persons I know. Despite the depth of feeling in my life journey, I too strive to always hold to underlying optimism, faith and hope, no matter the circumstances or my temporal state of happy or sad

    So today your post moved me ... It is true, our subjective well being perhaps comes from within, not only in the emotions, but in the living of life. ... yet too, even sometimes when we visit sadness, we still can uphold the beauty in the entire walk and have a positive optimistic outlook on life if we feel good about who we are, what we are doing, and those important persons we hold most close. ...

    Thanks for an insightful post, perhaps it took on new meaning today (smile) :)
    Blessings to you on this Father's Day

  2. thanks for posting, luvly blog,

  3. Thanks for stopping by!!


About Me

I am a writer, lifelong student, former academic and new blogger. My passion continues to be everyday living. I am interested in what people do, how, when and why they do it, and what it means for their their understanding of the world and hence, their well being.