According to the World Happiness Report 2019, these are the happiest countries in the world: Finland, Denmark and Norway. But... are they really the happiest in the world?
The basis for constructing the 136 pages of the report is the following question: "Rate your life today from 0 to 10". From a psychological point of view this question is wrong for two reasons:
First, because people tend to answer that question according to their external circumstances: Money they earn, social support, health, freedom, generosity and absence of corruption in their country. But happiness has much more to do with the person's inner experience and other biological circumstances. We all know people who have everything: Money, freedom, health, a stable and secure country and yet they are depressed and unhappy. In Finland, the happiest country in the world, the suicide rate is 15.9 people per 100,000 inhabitants. In Jamaica, 56th in the happiness ranking, only 2.2 suicides per 100,000 inhabitants suffer. Seven times less. Something doesn't add up.
The second reason the question is wrong is that hope is one of the greatest generators of happiness, and it doesn't depend on how you value your life today. It depends on your expectations, on how you think you will be in the future. Hope is believing that tomorrow will be better, that we have exciting days ahead of us. That's why there are so many people who have everything, are unhappy and suffer from anxiety. They see tomorrow as a threat, as a possibility of losing what they have.
And there is a third reason why the report is wrong: There are very important variables that have not been taken into account: Hours of sunshine, strong family ties, people's character, culture and lifestyle undoubtedly influence happiness. Why do so many people in northern Europe, including the top three countries on the list, go to live in southern Europe when they retire? Why would you want to go from Norway (rank 3) to Greece (rank 82) to spend the rest of your life? To be more unhappy? Again something doesn't add up.
The World Happiness Report is a fantastic initiative. Happiness is a very serious subject and must be measured. But next year, please have a multidisciplinary and multicultural team. And include a psychologist in the management team. If you do, it will change the classification for sure.
What do you think? What is the happiest country in the world?