(ORDO NEWS) — Among the pandemics and other hardships that have affected most people on Earth in recent years, there are also bright spots of hope – at least according to the new World Happiness Report 2022 just released by researchers and experts.
The report was prepared by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network using data from the Gallup World Poll. This year’s report, the tenth anniversary of the survey, collects responses from approximately 1,000 respondents in each of the 156 participating countries.
While the ongoing effects of the coronavirus outbreak have undoubtedly brought pain and suffering to many people, there has also been an increase in people’s support and goodwill towards each other, the authors of the study report.
“We found significant increases worldwide in 2021 in all three types of kindness tracked by the Gallup World Poll,” says economist John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia in Canada.
“Helping strangers, volunteering and giving in 2021 has grown strongly in all parts of the world, reaching levels almost 25% higher than before the pandemic.”
As disease and war continue to affect prosperity, this is a reminder that humanity still has hope – that in times of trial we can unite.
“This surge of goodwill, which was especially great when helping strangers, is strong evidence that people respond to helping those in need, creating more happiness for the recipients, a good role model for others, and a better life for themselves in the process,” she says. Helliwell.
As for individual countries, in 2022, the happiest residents were recognized as the inhabitants of Finland, which has been ranked first for the fifth year in a row. Denmark finished in second place, with Iceland, Switzerland and the Netherlands rounding out the top five.
The team behind the report believes that high trust, social cohesion, good work-life balance, and free education and health care are the main reasons why Scandinavian countries rank high in the report every year.
Although the positioning did not change significantly from last year, the largest increases in happiness scores were seen in Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. The biggest drop in happiness scores was seen in Lebanon and Venezuela, as well as in Afghanistan.
“At the very bottom of the rankings are societies suffering from conflict and extreme poverty,” says economist Jan-Emmanuel De Neve from the University of Oxford (UK).
“Remarkably, the people of Afghanistan rate their quality of life as only 2.4 out of 10. This serves as a stark reminder of the material and non-material damage that war inflicts on its many victims, and of the fundamental importance of peace and stability for human well-being.”
Stress, anxiety and sadness have increased overall, the researchers report, and the pandemic in particular has had a “tangible impact” on life and happiness. In the future, concern is likely to be about war, the rising cost of living, and the changes that come with the climate crisis.
There are different views in different age groups. Among young people, for example, life satisfaction has fallen, but it has also risen among people over 60 years of age. However, in general, most countries experience little long-term decline in life satisfaction.
The World Happiness Report aims to promote and provide information about happiness and well-being. While researchers continue to discover new knowledge about what makes us happy, our happiness, or lack of it, is still largely dependent on environmental factors and what is happening around us.
While conflict, disease, poverty and inequality remain top concerns in 2022, researchers believe there is a lot of potential for better self-care, whether at the government level or individual action.
“Acts of kindness and generosity can help us get through difficult times by giving us a sense of purpose, something practical to focus on, and showing the strength of the human spirit,” explains Mark Williamson, CEO of charity Action for Happiness.
“We can improve mental health by taking positive action to help others.”
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