Read on before you tell your boss where they can stick it.
A smiling face can hide a world of hurt.
The World Happiness Report has been released this month crowning the world’s happiest country, and boy has it caused some rivalry. Launched in 2012 by the United Nations, the report gives 158 countries around the world a definitive placing based on a number of factors, such as earnings, living standards and perceived freedom.
Think your home country should top this list? The winner might surprise you.
No, it’s not the United States of America, home of the brave. It’s not Australia, great southern land of the tanned surfer and carefree attitude. And the United Kingdom didn’t even make it to the top five (no, the arrival of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge didn’t factor into their happiness rank).
Coming in at number one is Switzerland. The European country boasts an average life expectancy of 82.8 (precise, huh!) and most citizens are multilingual, speaking German, French and English. Cold climate countries took out the top five spots, with Iceland ranking second on the list, followed by Denmark, Norway and Canada.
“This report gives evidence on how to achieve societal well-being,” says Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University. “It’s not by money alone, but also by fairness, honesty, trust, and good health.”
Other countries that made the World Happiness Report 2015 top ten include Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia. The United States claimed the fifteenth spot, while Britain crept in at number 21.
On the other end of the scale were war-torn countries and developing nations, most of which were sub-Saharan African countries. Afghanistan and Syria joined the likes of Rwanda, Chad and Ivory Coast at the tail end of the list.
Researchers say they hope the report will be used for good. “As the science of happiness advances, we are getting to the heart of what factors define quality of life for citizens,” says one of the report editors Professor John F. Helliwell of the Univeristy of British Colombia. “We are encouraged that more and more governments around the world are listening and responding with policies that put wellbeing first.”
Three ways to boost your happiness (without moving country)
1. Say thank you
Research in The Journal of Positive Psychology reveals that money and material goods won’t boost our long-term sustainable happiness, but gratitude will. Study leads from Baylor University looked into the relationship between materialism and life satisfaction.
Their conclusion that your pay packet won’t increase happiness wasn’t groundbreaking, but their findings about the impact of gratitude may well be.
Researchers found that feelings of gratitude act as a buffer from the negative effects of materialism. The take home message? At the end of each day practice reflecting on the good that happened that day, whether that be a new purchase or a great meal with friends – cultivating positive thoughts is key.
2. Get out there
Education and social-economic status are often linked to a better level of wellbeing, but research by the University of Warwick suggests that’s not the case. The study, which interviewed over 17,000 participants, found that getting a good education had no correlation to leading a happier life. So on this basis, focus on building life experiences to better your odds for a happier, more balanced life.
3. Have kids
Yep, that’s right. A study by the London School of Economics has found that having two children increases a person’s chance of happiness. What’s more, those who have children later in life have a particularly positive response to building a family. Interestingly, having a third child saw no boost in happiness.
Images via Sprout
Can you stay serene while striving for success? Janine Hall, the smart, savvy and super-successful entrepreneur and founder of Escape Haven – a group of women’s surf, yoga and luxury spa retreats in Bali, Byron Bay, Portugal and Morocco – says hell, yes!
Janine, 40, who splits her time between Bali and Byron Bay, knows a bit about overcoming adversity after starting out her life as an orphan when her Australian mother gave her up for adoption. She lived in an orphanage before being adopted and was reunited with her birth mother 18 years later when she came to New Zealand to find Janine.
A former fashion executive, Janine quit the corporate world to open up a surf and yoga retreat in Bali in 2010. And her success has been swift – Escape Haven Bali’s now the No.1 ranking women’s retreat on consumer review website Trip Advisor. And within four years, Janine’s expanded to Sagres, Portugal; Byron Bay and Marrakech, Morocco, with all four Escape Haven retreats generating more than $1 million in revenue.
Janine’s true passion is teaching guests the same wellness techniques she’s used to grow Escape Haven. And, she’s also recently launched The Creating Futures Foundation charity in Bali which aims to transform economically poor villages by teaching orphans surfing, yoga and education. So, how on earth do you stay zen while growing a business empire?
“It can be very daunting starting a business, particularly in a third-world country where initially I didn’t know one person,” Janine says. “It definitely had its own set of challenges and when you feel isolated on top of all of this, the road can be a little rough. Having self-belief and energy to persevere helped immensely.
“The more I focused my energy, the further I could drive. I gained perspective to make the right decision and do things better. It also bought me a lot of happiness.”
Janine believes people are more effective when they are in a calm place. “You make better decisions, and you feel happier,” she says, “you connect better with others and all you can see is possibility.”
She attributes yoga, surfing, meditation, beach walks, massages and a healthy diet to her success, which she strives to pass on to Escape Haven guests, who are taught well-being tools which can be integrated into their daily lives post-retreat.
“Women can reach their dreams, make the right decisions for them and overcome their self-imposed limitations,” Janine says.
For us non-guests, here are Janine’s top five tips for staying serene while striving for success:
1) Think happy, be happy: “Your thoughts are so powerful, and in turn affect your mood and outlook on life,” Janine says. “Next time you are feeling overwhelmed at work, take a few deep breaths from your stomach, and think yourself happy and calm.”
2) Take time out to feel vs think: “Switch your mind off even for a few minutes. If you have a busy brain, get outside and connect with nature,” Janine says. “Experience everything around you by fully exploring all your senses. How does nature smell, feel, what can you see nearby and far away? Before you know it you will be so immersed in a world that feels calm.”
3) Utilise the power of aromatherapy: Using calming oils in the office will induce feelings of tranquillity and simplicity, Janine says. “Try experimenting with different scents for different moods you want to evoke – energising, calming, relaxing – the choice is yours!” Janine says.
4) Don’t deprive yourself of sleep: Good energy levels are crucial, Janine says. “Getting well-rested sleep is particularly important. You’ll feel better, make better food choices and feel happier overall.”
5) Don’t take yourself so seriously: It’s easy to get caught up and lose perspective. “Laughter is the best medicine,” Janine says, “especially through hurdles. It will instantly make you feel better and offer you a clear perspective to make the right decisions.”