Earth is a happy place! Who knew?
Despite overwhelming media reports to the contrary, the world is a happy place and getting happier.
Under the heading "Dumb Things Your Country Is Doing That You Never Knew About," the U.S.-funded World Values Survey recently completed its yearly "happiness" poll and found happiness breaking out all over.
I have to say that it does not make me happy knowing our government is paying for such a pointless exercise. Nobody believes the world is a happy place. It's clear from watching the talking heads on CNN and other nattering nabobs of negativism that if the world had a handbasket, it would be going to hell in it. The common perception is that the world is suffering through a period of apocalyptic floods, fires, tornados, droughts, hurricanes, global warming, starvation, obesity, shingles, rickets, pleurisy, hives, dermatitis, Jacob-Creutzfeldt disease and halitosis. And that's just the Northern Hemisphere.
But the World Values Survey disputes that. The global network of social scientists who conducted the poll found that happiness increased from 1981 to 2007 in 45 of 52 countries analyzed. They found that there is a strong correlation between peace and happiness and between democracy and happiness.
Surprisingly, the survey discovered that the happiest place on Earth is not Disneyland, as we had been led to believe, but Denmark.
"Denmark, with its democracy, social equality and peaceful atmosphere, is the happiest country in the world," researchers said.
The most unhappy country? Zimbabwe, according to the survey. That no doubt will put a crimp in Zimbabwean President Forever and Ever Robert "Mr. Sunshine" Mugabe's plan to market his country as "The Monaco of Poor Oppressed Countries." (New tourism slogan: "What Happens In Zimbabwe Is None of Your Damn Business.")
The United States, collectively in a funk since the cancellation of "The Sopranos," could do no better than 16th-happiest country in the world. You'd think that since we paid for the survey, we would have at least beat out countries like Colombia, which ranked high on the list. How can that be? Isn't Colombia's chief export indicted drug lords?
The survey is suspect because it also lists Puerto Rico as one of the happiest countries on Earth when, unhappily for Puerto Rico, it's not even a country. I'm also suspicious because other countries deemed to be very happy are frozen or soggy places like Iceland, Switzerland, Northern Ireland and the Netherlands.
A better gauge of a country's happiness would be, is it a country that people flee from or flee to? You don't hear about a lot of boat people trying to sneak into Colombia.
"Ultimately, the most important determinant of happiness is the extent to which people have free choice in how to live their lives," one researcher said. That knocks out Disneyworld, where employees are forced to wear large rodent costumes in 100-degree heat.
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