Need some good news? The world is (ever so slightly) getting happier.
The World Happiness Report, only the second of its kind, was just published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. It gathers experts from a variety of fields to look for indicators of happiness with statistical value. The happiest country in the world is Denmark. Scandinavian countries hold three of the top five positions, with Norway coming in second and Sweden in fifth. Switzerland and the Netherlands fill out the other two highest slots with the United States coming in at 17. Six factors had a disproportionately strong influence on happiness, including “having someone to count on” and “perceived freedom to make life choices.” The report relies on the most recent three years of data from The Gallup World Poll, which surveys about 1,000 respondents from each country in a year. Overall, more countries made significant gains than sustained losses in their happiness scores. “Despite the obvious happiness impacts of the global financial crisis of 2007-08, the world has become a slightly happier and more generous place over the past five years,” the report states. Happiness studies and measurements of the third metric are perhaps growing more common as world citizens assess their quality of life beyond power and wealth.