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Dang! I Missed World Happiness Day!

Happy (belated) “World Happiness Day”. Yes, there is such a thing and it occurs every year on March 20–a week ago.  We don’t hear much about “World Happiness Day” in the United States–probably because we’re not very happy.

According to the World Happiness Report–a look at 156 nations on 6 key variables of wellness–income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support and generosity–the U.S. ranks #18 in happiness in 2018.  In 2017, the U.S. ranked #14.  In part, the decline in happiness is attributed to increases in obesity, addiction and depression.

So where does Happiness live?  It has nothing to do with tropical breezes! Despite being really, really cold, Finland took the #1 spot in 2018.  Followed by Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Switzerland.  And it isn’t just the native born who are happy.  Immigrants to these countries are happy, too.

What do all these places have in common?  A look at the internet, and you’ll find as many  answers as there are people.  However, one of the most telling factors is their economic and political equality.  While there are some families with low incomes, those families still have all the benefits and rights of the rest of the population–including free education through PhDs, universal healthcare and paid extended maternity (and paternity leave).  In Sweden, parents are given 480 days of paid leave to share.  And fathers are required to take a minimum of 90 of those days!  By comparison, the U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does NOT offer paid maternity leave.

The countries with high “Happiness” scores have systems that ensure well-being for not just the few who can afford it, but for everyone–native-born and foreign-born.  They think more about collective advancement rather than individual success.

The principles and practices sound a lot like the beloved community Jesus envisioned, when he commanded, “Love one another!”  We are often considered a “Christian Nation,” but our Happiness score would suggest we are far from it.


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