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Continuing from yesterday’s blog on the book “The Geography of Bliss”, the author – Eric Weiner mentioned a World Database of Happiness that is maintained by Ruut Veenhoven at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.  It describes itself as a continuous register of scientific research on subjective appreciation of life.  For this research project, happiness is defined as “the degree to which an individual judges the overall quality of his life-as-a-whole positively”, in short: how well one likes the life one lives.  Well, if one is academically serious about his/her happiness, this can be interesting.  The above map was clipped from the web site which has an interactive aspect to it on the internet.  Whenever the cursor passes over a country, a score for that country comes up.

Here are some random happiness scores:  US = 7.4, Canada = 8.0, Costa Rica = 8.5(one of the highest), Switzerland = 8.0, South Korea = 6.1, China = 6.4, Iceland = 8.2, Russia = 5.6.

The Geography of Bliss has a chapter on Switzerland, tagged “Happiness Is Boredom.”  Hmmm.

According to Weiner:

One Swiss said: Maybe happiness is this: not feeling like you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being someone else.  Maybe the current conditions in Switzerland … make it easier to “be” and therefore “be happy”.

Weiner concludes by saying that a new word is needed to describe Swiss happiness – something more than mere contentment but less than full-on joy.  He coined the word “Conjoyment” and explained it as something “we feel joyful yet calm at the same time … There is a frenetic nature to our joy, a whiff of panic; we’re afraid the moment might end abruptly.  But then there are other moments when our joy is more solidly grounded.”

To me it sounds like Swiss happiness is contentment plus security, well, I will find out soon from some natives.  Hopefully, by osmosis, I will feel happier after moving from a place with a score of 7.4 to one at 8.0.


One Comment

  1. I’m studying at Erasmus University and this is the first I have heard of the World Database on Happiness. I’m going to look into it and might post a follow up blog about it. Thanks for the lead!

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  1. […] The Geography of Bliss: Happiness Scores […]

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