Imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from zero at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?
This so-called happiness ladder is famously used as a way to measure and compare happiness across the globe. The “World Happiness Report” ranks countries based on the subjective well-being and happiness of people who live there and their responses to the ladder test.
See it here in PDF:
Countries you’d expect to be happy — those with strong economies and quality of life — are still pretty happy, even though many fell short of the top 10 and could improve policies to make their citizens even happier.
One thing we’ve learned from the happiness report is that there are six variables that explain differences in human happiness across countries.
The research is intended for use at the public policy level, but there are lessons to learn at the personal level as well. Find a sustaining and satisfying job; do your best to live in a happy place; surround yourself with social support; take care of your health; and be generous (in spirit, time and money) in order to pave your own personal road to happiness.
Choosing a Happy Community
What factors make a community a place where people are happy? The interviewed 43,000 people in 26 communities to find out.
- Openness: People are happy when they live in a community that is welcoming to all.
- Beauty: Living in a scenic, picturesque or charming community, with lots of trees and green space, makes people happier.
- Social opportunities: When a community is designed to foster social connections — restaurants, community spaces, sidewalks, trails and other public spaces — people are happier.
The lesson is that where you live can have a profound effect on your happiness. If you don’t fit in, if you don’t know your neighbors, if walking outside doesn’t put a spring in your step — find a new place to live if you can afford it. Explore new neighborhoods, rent before you buy, talk to friends, talk to potential neighborhoods and relocate your way to a happier life. The key, says Jay Walljasper, author of is to find a place where neighbors can encounter each other spontaneously. Look for neighborhoods with a green commons, sidewalks, parks, street festivals and community gatherings. If you’re in the city, choose an apartment with a shared backyard or a street known for its Halloween festival or a community newsletter. Look for signs that the people there are connected and create opportunities to connect with each other on a regular basis.