November 24th, 2021.
“Please imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?”
This is one of the primary question of life evaluations that leads to annual findings by the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University and their World Happiness Report. Now in its 9th year, the report has become a touchstone in understanding global happiness and the driving forces which impact and affect it. Other questions evaluate individuals access to social support (If you were in trouble, do you have relatives or friends you can count on to help you whenever you need them, or not?), whether or not there is the freedom to make life choices (Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your freedom to choose what you do with your life?) and generosity (Have you donated money to a charity in the past month?). The report also explores household income, life expectancy, emotional resilience, quality of life and trust.
The 2021 UN World Happiness Report, which presents data from 2020, is a fascinating exploration of global responses to the coronavirus pandemic. Finland holds on to its previously held first place while Australia is currently ranked 12th in the global rank of happiness. While answers to individual questions hugely deviated from the norm, the overall score’s most countries achieved according to Gallup (the authority on global analytics engaged to collect and analyse data) were not dissimilar to previous years. The reason for this can be largely attributed to profound resilience.
The pandemic has consistently been referred to as a great leveller and in many ways the Happiness Report supports this. In Australia, our propensity for relative compliance has meant much lower morbidity rates and case numbers when compared to Europe as we mostly accepted restrictions, mask-wearing and vaccination mandates for the greater good, yet a spotlight has been trained on the way be navigate our daily lives.
Lockdowns have led to a loss of social connectedness which its directly linked to mental health. Employment flexibility and relevance have brought stability to some while others have had to reassess their vocations as well as their living arrangements. Some of the largest take-aways from the time we are currently living through is that a sense of community and the provision of homes which truly support life have become central to social, economic and cultural dialogues.
Words by Tiffany Jade