From Business Week, Aug. 20, 2008
“This year, the analysts were shocked by their findings. Reported happiness had actually risen in 40 countries and decreased in just 12. Inglehart, who has been involved in this research for 20 years, says
the results defied conventional wisdom on the subject of happiness, which has held that levels remain more or less static. “We knew it couldn’t happen,” he says. “I said to myself, ‘Do I dare report this?'”
In seeking to explain it, they further reveal how they don’t understand happiness.
“What the survey found this year is that freedom of choice and social acceptance are the most powerful forces behind national moods.”
“In his opinion, benevolence and expressions of gratitude appear to be subtle but powerful ways to bring happiness into one’s life and to extend it.” This is true. Attention to our internal state helps us shift habits towards choosing happiness.
Like Love, happiness rises from within. It is dependent on our internal well-being, not on external circumstances. That is why the very poor are often found to be happy. What is taking place around us may improve satisfaction, but our response to circumstances, how we feel about the world, is a measure of how we are with ourselves within.
The report is a fine sign of the world’s growth.