Happiness can be described as an emotional or mental state of well-being, which is defined by positive emotions ranging from intense joy to contentment. There are various approaches such as psychological, biological, religious and philosophical, which have attempted to define happiness and show its sources.
According to Martin Seligman, Pleasant Life is realized when people learn to appreciate and savour basic pleasures such as natural environment, companionship and bodily needs. People can remain pleasantly stuck in this stage or they can continue to experience good Life, which is usually achieved through discovering their unique strengths and virtues, and using them to enhance their lives creatively. According to the theories of self-esteem, life can only be genuinely satisfying if people discover value within themselves. Consequently, in order to discover this value, people should nourish their unique strengths, that in contribute to the happiness of their fellow humans. Seligman continue to argue that the most satisfied people are those who discover and exploit their unique strengths such as temperance, humanity and persistence. Seligman further insists that happiness consists of Pleasant Life, Good Life, and Meaningful Life. Happiness is mostly measured by either looking at life satisfaction, positive emotions or absence of negative emotions (Ryan et al, 2001).
The Happy Planet Index report published on June 2012; shows that Costa is the most happiest of the 151 countries that were considered. This means Costa Rica was the most efficient economy around the globe by the time. Costa Rica is a rugged country located in Central American, with coastlines on pacific and Caribbean. The country is home to diverse cultural institutions such as Pre-Columbian Gold Museum. Costa Rica is also known for its volcanoes, beaches and immense biodiversity. More than a quarter of the country comprise of jungles, rich with wildlife. Costa Rica remains peaceful, despite absence of permanent army since 1949. Successive governments have worked hard to maintain this peace and unity, making the country one of the best in the world. The life expectancy of Costa Rica is 79 years, which is higher than the whole Americas apart from Canada. Costa Rica's Social Security System is attributed to be the contributing factor for the rise of life expectancy.
When asked how they feel about their lives, people in Costa Rica are optimistic and their overall average score on a scale of 0 to 10 is 7.3. Some people suggests that the countrys success may be as a result of abolition of the standing army in the country, freeing up the money to spend on development projects, solid social networks and social programs.
Good health and happiness are not comprehensive enough to succeed on Happy Planet Index over. The per capita ecology foot print of Costa Rica is another vital contributing factor that has helped the country move at the top of the chart. The country has embraced and valued sustainability. It produces about 99 per cent of the energy from purely renewable sources. The country has also reversed deforestation, and it was also the first country to commit itself to become carbon neutral by 2021. However, its Footprint is larger than it would need to be for it to live within its fair share of planetary resources. This is due to consumption patterns. The goods that are consumed by many in the country are produced in other countries with less sustainable energy policies. Thus one country cannot achieve sustainability alone.
According to Happy Planet Index, Costa Rica is ranked number 1. The country has a Life Expectancy of 79.3, Well-being of 7.3, and foot print of 2.5. According to the color codes, Costa Rica is labeled blue on life expectancy and wellbeing. This means these components are in good state. The country needs to make slight improvements on these considerations. On the footprints, the color code is yellow, meaning the score is average. Many improvements are needed to boost the footprints. The country needs to look into per capita measure of the land required to sustain their consumption patterns, which is measured in terms of global hectares.
To achieve its position, Costa Rica has worked tirelessly on various issues, and made some improvements geared at reversing previous mistakes. Official figures shows the country has controlled and improved the forest cover, to more than half, compared to 20% in 1980s. The country has slowly built its reputation, by being among the greenest and happiest country in the planet. Their efforts to maintain this position, has largely contributed to their current position in Happy Planet Index. Costa Rica was also the first developing country in the world, to announce its aim of mass planting of trees so that it can become carbon neutral by the end of 2021. In 1997, Costa Rica pioneered a carbon tax, which is used to pay indigenous communities and landowners some money per hectare not to cut down trees. They also get about 90% of their energy supply from renewable sources. Costa Rica ecological footprint is attributed to the increased consumption and pollution.
Well-being, genetic makeup, nutrition, access to health care, environmental condition and lifestyles are determinants of old-age mortality.
According to World Happiness Report 2015, Costa Rica is ranked position 12, out of 158 countries. Out of the 8 points, Costa Rica received (7.226). Costa Rica ranked on the higher end. This is because the country is number 12, in the ranking, which is way above the last country.
Costa Rica is a classic example of countries that are happier than their GDP. The country made headlines in 2012 when it was declared the land of Pura Vida, by Happy Planet Index ,meaning the happiest country on Earth. Besides per capita GDP, World Happiness Report contemplates life choices, corruption perception life expectancy and freedom among other factors estimate a nations average happiness
The colour coded bars represents the 6 main factors that affect global happiness. Each bar contributes to the overall happiness score. Costa Rica has a GDP per capita of 0.9, social support of 1.3, health life expectancy of 0.8. The freedom to make life choices in Costa Rica is 0.5. The generosity of the citizens in the country is ranked at 0.2. The perception of corruption stands at 0.1.
In Costa Rica, social effect had the highest effect on the counties happiness. The country is considered to be rich in culture and embrace social event. Socialism has enabled tourism to rank third-largest source of income for the country. Perception of corruption has the least effect on the overall happiness ranking. The country needs to concentrate more on mitigating corruption.
Costa Rica ranks at position 12 as compared to Canada, which is position 5. Canada has a GDP per capita of 1.4, which is 0.6 more than that of Costa Rica that has 0.5. The social support of both countries is almost equal. There is a slight variation in the health life expectancy, where Costa Rica is 0.8, whereas Canada has 0.9. There is big variation though in generosity of the citizens in the countries and their perception on corruption stands at 0.1. Canada seems to carry the day and these attributes affects the overall ranking, putting Canada above Costa Rica.
Australia, Canada and Switzerland are close to matching your requirements. These countries remain at the top, after creating my Better Life Index. Brazil Mexico and Turkey remains at the bottom according to the index.
Jobs and level of employment is one of the strong points for Australia. Unemployment in Australia decreased to 727,500 from 10,900. The number of unemployed people looking for full-time jobs largely decreased from 515,000 to 2,600 and the number of unemployed people looking for part-time jobs fell from 212,500 to 8,400.
Australian government seems to have worked hard to oversee reduction of unemployment levels. They have been providing incentives for longer-term employment usually over 26 weeks and for job linked vocational training. They have also uncapped Program places for the most disadvantaged. The Australias labour market programs concentrates on addressing employability and not providing full employment. Only a few long-term unemployed people are fully employed.
While looking at available jobs and unemployment levels in Australia, I realised that there are welfare benefits that are paid by the government, which are also known as social security payments. These welfare benefits are administered by Australian government agencies. The social security benefits such unemployment payments are only claimed by holders of permanent residency visas and Australian citizens. New residents only become eligible to be paid unemployment benefits if they have been resident in the country for not less than104 weeks.
My Personal Reflection
The general trend is that higher incomes and longevity raise happiness, while corruption perceptions lower happiness. Consequently generosity and freedom raise happiness. Also renewed focus on the role of ethics, and in particular of virtuous behaviour, in happiness could lead us to new and effective strategies for raising an individual, national, and global well-being. A desirable level of happiness is the act of feeling mild and moderately positive on occasions of negative emotions in some appropriate situations. Happier people tend to possess better social relations. Well-being is related to having more meaningful conversations.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2001) On Happiness and Human Potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Reviews Psychology (2001) 52:141-66.
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