A Gallup global survey reveals that Malaysia is way down in the list of ‘happy countries’.
Respondents were asked how they felt the previous day and had to rate “whether they felt well-rested, respected, free of pain and intellectually engaged”.
Denmark is the ‘happiest’ country in the world, according to the Gallup survey results published in Forbes.
The ranking among Southeast Asian nations is as follows:
79 – Thailand
81 – Singapore
85 – Indonesia
91 – Burma (and Bangladesh)
94 – Malaysia and Philippines
96 – Vietnam
130 – Laos
148 – Cambodia
Does that explain the stressed out faces all around us? Eighty per cent of Malaysians are classified as ‘struggling’. That puts us in 19th place in the survey if countries are ranked in terms of the highest percentage of people struggling.
The Forbes said that Gallup researchers found a link between income levels and happiness.
I would think the real link is between social justice and happiness.
Many countries are obsessed with GDP growth as the over-riding measure of national success.
Wikipedia describes an alternative measure, ‘Gross National Happiness’ (GNH), which is used in Bhutan:
Like many psychological and social indicators, GNH is somewhat easier to state than to define with mathematical precision. Nonetheless, it serves as a unifying vision for Bhutan’s five-year planning process and all the derived planning documents that guide the economic and development plans of the country. Proposed policies in Bhutan must pass a GNH review based on a GNH impact statement that is similar in nature to the Environmental Impact Statement required for development in the U.S.
The Bhutanese grounding in Buddhist ideals suggests that beneficial development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other.
The four pillars of GNH are:
- the promotion of sustainable development,
- preservation and promotion of cultural values,
- conservation of the natural environment, and
- establishment of good governance.
At this level of generality, the concept of GNH is transcultural—a nation need not be Buddhist in order to value sustainable development, cultural integrity, ecosystem conservation, and good governance.
Isn’t it time we started looking at the obvious flaws of GDP as a measure of success, especially when it doesn’t take into account environmental degradation, high stress levels and mental illness, rising crime, the wide gender gap, income disparities, pervasive corruption, abuse of human rights and the lack of civil and political liberties?