For those of you who aren’t aware, a few people out there keep a constant eye on your happiness. They record it, study it and even propose ways to improve it. Those people at the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network publish a world happiness report, every year.
Can you guess where India ranked in 2017, top 50 ? top 100 ? We ranked a dismal 122 out of the 157 countries included in the report.
The rankings were based on 6 major factors
1)Per capita GDP. (The money each one of us makes)
2)Social Satisfaction. (The quality of our society)
3)Healthy life expectancy. (How long we could expect to live)
4)Freedom to make decisions.
We are way behind arch rivals Pakistan and China, war ravaged Iraq is also far ahead of us in terms of “happiness”. This implies other than making lesser money, we also were stingy, untrusting, unsatisfied people. India is considered a land of spirituality and mysticism, a place where the rest of the world comes to seek happiness and peace, and yet the mass of humanity that makes up India remains unhappy.
But why ? To delve a little deeper we need to explore what life satisfaction is. I assure you, it isn’t a term i made up myself.
Life Satisfaction – Our happiness depends significantly on our adult life situation—our economic situation (our income, education and employment), our social situation (whether we have a partner and whether we are involved in crime), and our personal health (physical and mental).
The way we develop (intellectual,behavioral and emotional) as we grow up and evolve into productive adults, plays a major role in shaping our current life situation. Are we confident , creative, well paid problem solvers with awesome social lives and pristine physical and mental health ? Or are we insecure, underpaid, problems makers who have no real choice in anything that we do ?
The answer is pretty simple, a majority of us fall in the latter category. So, are we to blame ? After all, isn’t the nation nothing but a collection of individuals ? Are we genetically unhappy ? I wouldn’t think so.
I believe the problem lies in hierarchies, putting up everything on a numbered list is our biggest caveat. This ranking begins before a child is born. A pregnancy immediately after the wedding ranks higher than one that occurs five years down the lane. A plump mother is better than a thin one. A normal delivery better than a surgical one. We are somehow tuned to make quick nonsense judgments, like black <white, short<tall and fat<lean.Then comes school wherein the most important years of our lives are spent either scoring millions of marks and ranking number one or at the other end being scorned for not being like that super talented child living next door.
There are also those who find middle ground, with the help of awesome, non judgmental parents who help find and develop skills required to become a productive and independent adult, rather than a gleaming trophy who though successful, may never be confident enough to be happy.
Our previous generation has helped us as much as they could, but again with an agenda. This agenda has never had anything to do with happiness. It had everything to do with “security”. Little do they know that when economic situation>social situation>personal situation, true security can never be achieved ! What we do get are rich people who are so insecure that instead of spending their hard earned money on doing things that could make them happy, they save for a future that will never come . Thousands of kilograms of unused gold, millions in cash and thousands of acres of real estate stand testimony to how insecure we are. Perhaps our happiness has been over simplified ?
We have been given conditions and goals that when achieved, should provide happiness, that’s how we were brought up, that is all we know. But every goal is always followed up by a bigger goal. We rant on indefinitely working our insecure butts off only to die a resentful, unhappy death.
If we were to magically transform our society into one where health (physical, mental and social) was given as much importance as stereotyped concepts of “success” in academics , occupation and marriage , we could potentially rank higher in terms of happiness in a few years time . . . or not !
The young one’s are getting smarter by the day and the future seems pretty bright, as long as parents of today play along, and understand that it is more important to be happy than to be a trophy.