Happy is as happy does, updates

Did you know there is a Happy Planet Index, (HPI)?

The HPI multiplies the subjective life satisfaction and the life expectancy of a country, and then divides it by the country’s ecological footprint.

The first HPI was published in 2006, the second one in 2009, the third in 2012. Guess which country has been #1 since 2009 . . .

Costa Rica!

In 2009 Costa Rica was #1 of the 143 countries reviewed. In 2012, it was #1 of 151 countries. Their medium level of environmental impact, very high well being and high life expectancy levels keep them at the top of the Happy Planet Index. (Their life expectancy is better than ours!)

The US was #114 in 2009; today it is 105 – that’s progress, but means 104 countries have higher HPIs than ours! (Didn’t you think ours would be at least in the top 10, 20, 50, 100?)

In 2009, Macedonia was ranked #111; unfortunately in 2012, they dropped to #127. (I lived in Macedonia for three years, have been back each year since 2009, and consider it one of my three homes.) I also lived in the Republic of Georgia for three and a half months, and fell in love with folks there, and I’m thrilled to say their current rank is #55! Their “relatively high life expectancy and a low ecological footprint” keeps them high on the HPI. Way to go Georgia! Happy is as happy does.

The HPI folks have set a target for nations to aspire to a score of 89 of 100 by 2050; “the highest HPI score is only 76.1, scored by Costa Rica.” (And, that was in 2009, it is lower now, but still higher than everyone else’s.)

Yup, we have a way to go, but I have no doubt we will get there both as a country and a planet because the topics of happiness and well-being are becoming mainstream and other positive indicators are getting attention throughout the world.

I’ve posted about Gross National Happiness (GNH) in the past. The King of Bhutan started that score rolling in 1972, when he decided that GNP, Gross National Product, a very commercial way of  looking at a country’s success, wasn’t the only way he wanted to assess his country’s viability. I like that. Here’s a new video that explains how Bhutan developed it’s GNH, and what happened after it did, including a 19 year increase in longevity and a 50% increase in literacy.

Did you know Australia, Britain, and China along with other major countries are developing new ways to assess their countries well-being? They, too, agree that GDP alone, is not the best indicator of how well their nations are doing. They’re putting time and money into well-being research, conferences and programs, which is good because even though household income for Americans has risen dramatically since the 1950’s, our happiness levels have remained relatively the same. Study after study shows that money is not the best indicator of happiness.

Would you like a free, quick and guaranteed way to raise your happiness level this week? Starting today, think about one thing you could do each day to make someone else happy, and then do it! Happy is as happy does.

Focusing your attention on finding ways to put a smile on the face of your spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, children, neighbors, coworkers, friends and strangers will make you happier, too. We are social creatures and enjoy being connected to one another; by focusing your attention on others you can reinforce those bonds and bring depth and stability to your life and the lives of those around you. In fact, simply thinking about what you would like to do for someone or making yourself more aware of others and their feelings, can raise your happiness levels and mood because it takes your attention off yourself and your worries.

As you begin your happiness-raising week, remember it is the little things that count; no grand gestures necessary. And, don’t worry about being thanked in return; do it with an open heart and see what happens.

Happiness inducing tip: next time you feel the least bit slighted by a person or situation, instead of worrying, ruminating and plotting revenge – do something nice for someone else. Repeat as necessary, and you will be amazed at how quickly your world brightens. Happy is as happy does.

Let me know how it goes, and please share this post with your friends and family. If enough of us get involved, we just might raise the USA’s Happy Planet Index standing!  I’d like that.

Have a great week – do something happy!

PS This post was first published in July of 2011 and was updated for today’s posting.

PSS For a daily update on USA’s well-being, check out the Gallup daily well-being index. The data is free, and is broken down by state and congressional district, which by the way, makes a geeky gal like me very happy! (Please note: The HPI uses Gallup data in their formula.)

PSS For a nifty Gallup report on the U.S.’s well-being in 2011, click here.

If you would like help raising your personal well-being level, contact Patrice Koerper for her life coaching services.  Wishful Thinking Works life coaching can put you on the fast track to happiness!

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