Just How Happy New Year?

This week I was still casting about for a new year’s resolution when I learned that Canada has placed 23rd (out of 58 countries) for national happiness. Surprised? You can’t argue with the Global Barometer of Happiness, a new measurement of mirth created by Toronto-based Leger Marketing.

According to this poll, 22 countries around the world have people in them who smile more than we do. They include places like Brazil, Denmark, Ghana, Nigeria and Uzbekistan. The happiest folks in the world live in Fiji (but that’s kind of a no-brainer, right? If I lived on a beautiful south Pacific island where the temperatures never fall below highly pleasant, I too would be wearing a perma-grin along with my bikini).

So why so glum, Canadian chums? The executive VP of Leger Marketing, David Scholz, thinks maybe we expect too much. “We expect happiness to be something spectacular,” he says in a news article. “But what we define as ‘happiness’ is very different from what others around the world define as happiness.”

In other words, while we’re waiting for happiness to blow our minds, other people are content with what they already have. And maybe it’s not spectacular (unless, of course, they’re lucky enough to live in Fiji). But at least they have a more realistic definition of happiness.

2011 was a tough year for many people on many fronts. As for me, sometimes my challenges had challenges. But it would be wrong to negate all the good bits… the laughter and thrills, the ties to friends, my special family, my work, a number of great meals, some really fantastic reading… Despite any difficulties, I would have to say I am lucky. And I am happy.

Thus I finally settled on my resolution. Actually, I have my daughter to thank, as she showed me an inspirational quotation and I immediately decided to rip it off: “Instead of waiting for the storm to pass, learn how to dance in the rain.” I know I’ve already mastered a couple of steps. But I could definitely use more practice.

What does any of this have to do with good deeds? Naturally, giving to others is one surefire way to be happy. Research has demonstrated it again and again. It may not be the sort of happiness that blows your mind… but perhaps it’ll make you feel like dancing.

2 responses to “Just How Happy New Year?

  1. As usual Lisa, well-written, and giving us something to think about. It is so true that sometimes we expect too much–including expectations of success, happiness, wealth, etc.
    Some years, months, weeks, and days are more challenging than others. I look at your life and think–hey, if she can have that big smile, then so can I smile, even with whatever challenges I face. I’m with you and your daughter and would like to join you dancing in the rain. I also like to take the attitude of my uncle, who, when asked how he was, would answer: “Woke up on the right side of the grass; able to sit up and take nourishment.” He lived an active life for 76 1/2 years and died of a sudden heart attack last June–right after having two helpings of dinner. Now that’s happiness isn’t it?

  2. Thanks for your thoughts, Christine. It seems your uncle knew what he was doing, both in living and in dying. (Two helpings of dinner – wow.) Next time a storm hits, do feel free to join us in the rain. I’ll lend you an umbrella!

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