World Happiness Report
Do we have a right to Happiness?
In a place that is known for being the home of the “Happiest Place on Earth”, why is it that the U.S. only ranked 15th in the 2015 World Happiness Report recently released by the U.N.? (Helliwell, John F., Richard Layard, and Jeffrey Sachs, eds., 2015**). The Declaration of Independence states, that all men are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Is it true? Do we have a “right to be happy?”
There is a laser-focus on “self” today: self-improvement, self-fulfillment, self-understanding, self-nurturing, and getting needs met; it’s a “me” centered culture on a quest to fulfill what will make us happy. There is a 9.6 billion-dollar market in the U.S. for “self-improvement” programs and products, which promise to improve us on all levels: financially, mentally, physically and spiritually.
The report World Happiness Report 2015 (conducted by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a Global Initiative for the United Nations) is 167 pages long; it focuses on six key areas of happiness: “GDP per capita, healthy years of life expectancy, social support, trust, perceived freedom to make life decisions and generosity” (Helliwell, John F., Richard Layard, and Jeffrey Sachs, eds. 2015**). When we consider the question of “why” the U.S. ranked only 15th in this report, we must reframe the question to: “why would a country so focused on self-fulfillment not score as the happiest? Or one of the top countries? Surely we excel in all of the six key areas that were examined?
There is a movement towards looking for “God within” in our culture. We now have concierge - “pick and choose” religions; a little bit of this, and a little bit of that is becoming more of a norm than an anomaly. Diversity and tolerance have become watchwords in our culture. Individualism and entitlement define us, yet we as a people have gotten lost somehow. Where we were once a nation of staunch Christians with a strong work ethic and a real sense of community; today we have become increasingly more isolative, perverse, and anti-Christian.
“Christianity has slightly…declined as a percentage of the world’s population since 1900” (Mandryk, p. 4, 2010***), and in the United States, “since 1990 there has been a pronounced decline in the overt affiliation to organized Christianity” (Mandryk, p. 864, 2010). The decline is unfortunate because we were not created to be happy outside of our relationship with God; He is the one true source of self-fulfillment and happiness. It is troubling to observe that as the world seeks answers, we are increasingly turning away from the one true source of where the answers may be found.*
*this is an excerpt from my upcoming book: Temptation in the Media Age: Recognizing and Defeating the Enemy
**Helliwell, John F., Richard Layard, and Jeffrey Sachs, eds. 2015. World Happiness Report 2015 (pg. 3 Summary). New York: Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Retrieved from http://worldhappiness.report
***Mandryk, Jason (2010). Operation World, The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation. Completely Rev. 7th Ed. Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press
Are you happy?
Where does your happiness come from?