“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions”. – Dalai Lama
Imagine two types of societies. In one society, people are stressed, unhappy, tense, irritable, and self-centered. In another, people are at ease, happy, untroubled, and compassionate. The difference between these two societies is evident and vast. People are more likely to be more content in the latter society. They are also expected to be healthier, safer, and have better relationships.
The difference between a happy and unhappy country is not a trivial thing. So how can we create a happy society? Scandinavian countries tend to do well in this matter. They generally meet the World Happiness Report prerequisites for national happiness – social support, income, healthy life expectancy, trust in their government, freedom, and generosity. No wonder they are typically at the top of the global happiness rankings.
Other countries like Bhutan, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand follow suit. Bhutan was the first country to create a policy based on the happiness of its citizens, claiming that the Gross National Happiness (GNH) is a more important measure of prosperity and progress than Gross National Product (GNP). In 2010, the UK developed a national well-being program while New Zealand introduced the ‘well-being budget,’ intending to improve the well-being of their most vulnerable citizens. These examples show us that it is possible to change even the most unhappy places, as long as their leaders are willing to do so.
However, not all countries are happy. Whether they are developed or not, rich or poor, some countries fail to ensure the happiness of their people. The results of the World Happiness Report and other research show that, globally, leaders of such countries fail to focus on the happiness of their people, and history teaches us that those governments that do not put happiness first risk being swept away. Ed Diener, a famous professor of psychology at the University of Utah and the University of Virginia, notes that happiness is the responsibility of both the state and the individual. Our governments and policymakers can facilitate the pursuit of happiness, but it is an individual who should follow them.
This returns us to the importance of awareness. Being (self)aware allows us to identify our thoughts, actions, and behaviors. By being self-aware, we can understand who we are, how others see us, and what is our role in society. Our happiness relies on this ability, as well as the ability to be socially aware.
Social awareness is rooted in compassion and empathy. Being socially aware means understanding how our society functions, what are its problems, struggles, cultures, and norms. To be socially conscious is to step out of a personal bubble to listen and care for others. Social awareness helps us increase positivity, form healthy relationships, teaches us an appreciation of others and things we have, reduces judgment, and increases sympathy and tolerance.
Since education plays an essential role in the socialization and happiness of people, schools and universities should also have a crucial role in the effort of increasing happiness in a society. Why? Because in addition to being knowledge producers, educational institutions are responsible for developing students into productive and valuable members of society. They also help people create meaningful lives and sustainable happiness.
In addition to improving the economic and educational standard of living, policymakers should also think of ways to increase the happiness and well-being of societies by strengthening their health systems. This is a no-brainer since health is one of the most important factors of human happiness. Multiple studies have shown that happy people have a better immune system, a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease, and fewer chronic pains. Happy people also live longer. Policies focused on happiness and well-being can lead to improved health outcomes, which can ultimately enhance healthcare performance.
We also need to think of social inclusion and empowerment of people. Social inclusion is what keeps society together. Through social empowerment, people can have greater control over their lives and live as they would like. However, it requires a certain standard of health and education to be fully realized.
These elements are crucial for creating a decent, happy society. They are indicators of how we can build even better societies in the future.
A Happier Society is Possible
“What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?” – Henry David Thoreau
We are all connected to a broader world through our communities. It’s common sense to want to make our community, society, and world a better place for all of us to live.
To create a happy and prosperous society, we need to develop and support incentive programs that benefit the people around us, even when they don’t benefit us personally. If we want to enhance societal happiness, such incentives and programs need to be adopted by governments, local and international organizations, and everyone who wishes for a happier society.
Happytalism is about making this shift to a happier society, where people can lead happy, balanced, and meaningful lives. However, although the idea is clear, it requires a considerable social and cultural change. The goal of Happytalism is to bring together people who believe that we can create a better world and encourage them to do as much as they can to increase the happiness and well-being of others.
We want to help create societies that put their people’s happiness first. We want to encourage people to abandon self-serving, self-centered, materialistic, and meaningless behavior and steer them towards a more loving way of living. Our goal is to inspire others to lead fulfilling lives and help them make positive changes in their homes, workplaces, schools, and communities.
The happiness we want to cultivate in people’s lives is not just happiness that can be found and lost in an instant, but happiness with staying power. We may have to work hard for happiness at first, but once achieved; it becomes easier and more natural over time—a worthwhile goal.