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The World’s Happiest Country

Posted by on 10 July 2008

The results are out. Denmark is the happiest country in the world, based on the results of the 2007 World Values Survey.

At the extreme end of the spectrum, Zimbabwe was found to be the least happy, which is attributed to the political and social strife that’s tearing the country apart.

Malaysia didn’t do so badly, ranking at 34th, just a few notches below, Singapore, which is 31st. The Philippines ranks 38th, just behind France (37), and also trailing other Southeast Asian nations Thailand (27) and Vietnam (36). Japan places 43rd and China, 54th.

Puerto Rico, Colombia, Northern Ireland, Iceland, Switzerland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Canada and Sweden were said to have ranked highly in the said happiness poll, which was first carried out in 1981.

Some 350,000 people from 97 countries and territories around the world were asked two simple questions for the said survey: “Taking all things together, would you say you are very happy, rather happy, not very happy, not at all happy?” and “All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?”

The research team concluded that happiness is determined largely by “the extent to which people have free choice in how to live their lives”. With this in mind, isn’t it curious why the United States — “Land of the Brave, Home of the Free“, self-appointed guardian of democracy all over the world, birthplace of the Apple iPod, Hershey’s chocolates, Plantronics Voyager 520, Starbucks, Levi’s jeans and a thousand and one other amenities — only ranked 16th?

I wonder how Malaysia would fare next year, as next year‘s results would be based on this year‘s state of affairs. With the huge, sudden jump in the prices of petrol recently, prices of commodities have sky-rocketed alongside. Malaysians are very unhappy, to put it mildly.

Then there’s the Malaysian political scene that’s playing out like a long drawn out Hindi movie. There’s something controversial in the headlines almost everyday. The newspapers, as the cliché goes, are having a field day. How things will turn out in the end is anybody’s guess but who am I, an outsider, to make any predictions or conclusions?

As they say in the Philippines, abangan ang susunod na kabanata, which roughly translates to ‘wait for the next chapter’. I must tell you, however, that the English version doesn’t quite capture the dramatic innuendo to the Tagalog phrase, which is frequently used in daytime TV soap operas right at the very suspenseful end of each episode, leaving you wanting for more and left with no choice but to indeed wait for the next episode. Which is what most Malaysians are doing now, with bated breath.

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