Group of happy young people sat in a park

International Day of Happiness - Happiest places

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In 2017, Norway topped the World Happiness Report ranking, with Australia coming in a respectable ninth place. With the United Nation’s International Day of Happiness coming up, we thought it was a good time to look at what makes a country and a workplace happy.


Why is Norway so happy?

The report looked at six factors to determine happiness:

  • GDP per capita
  • Healthy years of life expectancy
  • Social support (having someone to count on in times of trouble)
  • Trust (perceived absence of corruption in government and business)
  • Perceived freedom to make life decisions
  • Generosity (donations).

Norway ranked highly in all of these factors. The report also emphasised that it’s not just about making money, it’s what the country does with their money that matters for happiness.

Despite weaker oil prices, Norway has managed to avoid the economic highs and lows faced by other countries. Co-editor of the report, Professor John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia, said, “By choosing to produce oil deliberately and investing the proceeds for the benefit of future generations, Norway has protected itself from the volatile ups and downs of many other oil-rich economies. This emphasis on the future over the present is made easier by high levels of mutual trust, shared purpose, generosity and good governance. All of these are found in Norway, as well as in the other top countries.”


What about happiness at work?

The report looked at happiness in the workplaces as this is where we spend most of our lives. Here are some key findings:

  • Employed people evaluate the quality of their lives much higher than those who are unemployed.
  • Past spells of unemployment can have a lasting impact on happiness.
  • Rising unemployment negatively affects everyone, even those who are employed.
  • Well-paying jobs are conducive to happiness (but that’s not the whole story, see next point).
  • Work-life balance, autonomy, variety, job security, social capital, and health and safety risks were all important factors in determining work happiness.


Keys to happier living

The International Day of Happiness is on 20 March. The campaign encourages us to focus on ten keys for happier living:

  1. Giving – do things for others
  2. Relating – connect with people
  3. Exercising – take care of your body
  4. Awareness – live life mindfully
  5. Trying out – keep learning new things
  6. Direction – Have goals to look forward to
  7. Resilience – Find ways to bounce back
  8. Emotions – look for what’s good
  9. Acceptance – be comfortable with who you are
  10. Meaning – be part of something bigger

All around the world people are taking action to spread more happiness in their homes, workplaces, schools and communities.



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