The latest fatuous index of national “happiness” has gloomy Denmark chortling at the top of the pile and the Philippines languishing at 78, just behind “the land of smiles”, Thailand, at 76. The creator of this nonsensical project, an academic at the University of Leicester in the UK, has even provided a map of world “happiness”.
Earlier this happy month, another guide to global bliss, the “Happy Planet Index”, had the island nation of Vanuatu in first place, with the Philippines a respectable 17 (Denmark was in 99th place).
These wildly differing results can be partly explained by methodological differences. The Leicester index places the highest value on health statistics, while the New Economics Foundation (compilers of the “Happy Planet Index”) concentrates on “life satisfaction”, life expectancy and environmental footprint.
But isn’t the whole idea of indices to measure “happiness” nonsense? How can you conjure up objective variables to measure a subjective feeling like happiness?
You can compile all the data you like, but in the end just look around you. That’s really the best way to figure out who is happy and who is not.
To start the ball rolling, the “torn and frayed dismal planet index” includes China, Britain, Russia, Cuba, and, yes, Denmark in the dark countries. On the other hand, people in Thailand, Italy, Ecuador, Australia, and the Philippines seem, in general, pretty glad to be alive.
You can argue with my selection of countries of course, that’s fine by me. Just don’t tell me that, say, Denmark, “ought” to be happy because of its fabulous health statistics. I have a couple of wonderful Danish friends, but when I visited Copenhagen people would turn away when I asked for directions. Some friends of mine were virtually assaulted when they stepped into a cycle lane. And let’s not even mention dogme movies, Søren Kierkegaard, or Hamlet. Denmark, the happiest country in the world? That’s just hilarious.
Which brings us to our island home. Let’s face it, Pinoys have just about every reason you can think of to be miserable. Yet the crowds of people in jeepney hell under the Taft—EDSA intersection just can’t stop laughing and joking. It’s raining and I’m getting soaked? Ha, ha, uproarious! Crossed the road and nearly got run over—what a hoot!
It seems there is nothing that will stop Filipinos from having a good time. Their objective circumstances seem to have little to do with it – Filipinos just are happy (illogical or just plain nutty though that might be). I’m gonna try to figure out why that is in a subsequent post, but in the meantime if you have any ideas just leave me a wee comment below.