Just out from our colleagues at the Happiness Alliance: an overview of 2017 data compiled from the Happiness Index, an online questionnaire available at happycounts.org. This year’s “Happiness Report Card” is a combination of disquieting data points along with encouraging ideas how we can do better, especially in the areas of expressing love, caring for youth, trust in government, and connection to nature. Below is a brief run-down of the high (low?) points.
… But first, a little background: Laura Musikanski, the Executive Director of the Happiness Alliance, an outgrowth of Sustainable Seattle, and Alice Vo Edwards, the Alliance’s data analyst, are authors of the report. The Alliance first put the Happiness Index online in 2011 and issued the first Happiness Report Card the same year. Since then the Index has been used over 80,000 times, with about 900 people per month taking the survey. The survey instrument measures participants’ life satisfaction levels in the domains of standard of living (the economy), work, time balance, community, social support, environment, government, health, learning, and psychological well-being. The 2018 report is based on data collected over the course of 2017, and compares current results to previous years to detect trends and changes.
What you should know:
- Overall scores are at an all-time low, with improvements in only one domain: life-long learning.
- Our trust in local and national government is low, with only about 3% of us having a great deal of trust in government.
- Satisfaction with Life and Psychological Well-being scores are the lowest since 2011.
- Young people’s happiness levels are similar to that of the middle-aged; most shocking is that many young people report that they do not feel loved.
What to do? Well, the strength of this document is that is not only reports the trends, but offers concrete suggestions for how to begin improving not only your own well-being, but that of those around you, in widening circles. Ideas for supporting young people, re-connecting with nature, improving your community, and initiating dialogue about our trust in public institutions abound. We applaud this focus because “National” is the key word in Gross National Happiness. As we strengthen our own sense of well-being, we must also engage with others to promote the measurement of communal well-being in our communities, and the use of these measurements as a foundation for public policy.
To quote the Report Card’s introduction: “The news is not all good, but all of it points the way for positive change. And we believe in that. Data is not the only answer to making the world a better place for all beings, but in a data-driven world, it is a strong force and … yields important information for better decisions now and in our future.”