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World Happiness Day – it's official

By Russell Grenning - posted Tuesday, 20 March 2018

But back to International or, if you prefer, World Happiness Day.

The officially happiest country in the world is Norway with Australia a very creditable 9th on the list just behind New Zealand which is 8th. Israel is 11th and there is not one Islamic country at all in the top twenty. However, I have no doubt the United Arab Emirates, now ranked 28th will be soon be surging up the happiest nations list since its appointment of a Minister for Happiness in 2016. The Minister, a very attractive and supremely cheerful young woman, has been quoted as saying, "This is serious business for the government" which, on reflection, sounds a bit stern. There was even the faintest whiff of Hitler's "Strength Through Joy" movement which bought wonderfully organised happiness to all strictly racially pure heterosexual Aryan Germans (but very pointedly nobody else) back in the carefree 1930s.

The unhappiest country is, sadly, Burundi. In a tight race to the bottom, Burundi beat a host of other African countries and even war-torn Syria. The history of Burundi is one of coups, revolutions, oppressive brutal dictatorships, extreme poverty, mass starvation, violence and that semi-polite term for mass slaughter, ethnic cleansing.


But somebody there in their Tourism Department is very happy or, at least pretending to be happy, describing the country as "The Eden of Africa" and even "The Switzerland of Africa" which would come as quite a surprise to the Swiss. As far as I could ascertain Burundi doesn't manufacture high quality watches and clocks, doesn't have a solid reliable banking industry and there's not a good ski resort anywhere. Perhaps that tourism official is more delusional than happy.

"Action for Happiness" reports that things are not what they should be in the USA which fell from 3rd on the happy list in 2007 to 14th in 2016. It's one in the eye for the left-wingers among us for them to learn that the USA was far happier under President G W Bush than under President Obama. To again quote that groundbreaking "Action for Happiness" report this disastrous slump in the USA was caused by "declining social support and increased corruption".

Incidentally, and again I quote that report:

African people's expectations that they and their countries would flourish under self-rule and democracy appear not to have been met.

I am not prepared to say that the locals in Africa were happier before the white man laid down his burden because that would be racist and patronising – which are not happy thoughts – but perhaps one of the reasons these expectations haven't been met is because, as yet, most of Africa hasn't experienced democracy.

Things aren't going all that well in China either:


Current (happiness) levels are still, on average, less than a quarter of a century ago.

I'm guessing that no State owned operation did the survey there otherwise we would be reading that the comrades are overflowing with joy.

The Germans, bless them, have a wonderful word when it comes to one cause of happiness: schadenfreude. It means deriving pleasure from the sad misfortunes of others. Take it a step forward and it could become katagelasticism, the excessive enjoyment of laughing at others. I quite like both because it allows you to be happy when you think about nasty bastards you have known in the past and who have come a cropper.

And the good news is that come March 20 there will be a new updated World Happiness Report and, no doubt, with lots more uplifting and mirth-making slogans.

I have an entry:

Don't take life too seriously because you will never get out of it alive.

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About the Author

Russell Grenning is a retired political adviser and journalist who began his career at the ABC in 1968 and subsequently worked for the then Brisbane afternoon daily, The Telegraph and later as a columnist for The Courier Mail and The Australian.

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