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Here are the happiest countries to live in around the world — according to The World Happiness Report.

The report identifies the happiest nations as well as those at the bottom of the scale, and everything in between. It also looks at the factors that contribute to greater happiness.

Despite the current climate, it’s not all doom and gloom and there’s cause for optimism. According to the report, benevolence has risen about 25% since its pre-pandemic levels.

In an interview with CNN, one of the authors of the World Happiness Report, John Helliwell, said: “Benevolence to others, especially the helping of strangers, which went up dramatically in 2021, stayed high in 2022.”

It has also found that global happiness has not taken a hit in the three years since the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Life evaluations from 2020-2022 have been ‘remarkably resilient’ with global averages pretty much in line with the three years preceding the pandemic.

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As Helliwell added: “Even during these difficult years, positive emotions have remained twice as prevalent as negative ones, and feelings of positive social support twice as strong as those of loneliness.”

The report draws on global survey data from people in more than 150 countries, and is a publication of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Countries are ranked on happiness based on their average life evaluations over the three preceding years — in this case 2020 to 2022.

The Happiest Nations

Released on Monday March 20th (World Happiness Day), it revealed that for a sixth year in a row, Finland is the world’s happiest country — taken from its rankings based largely on life evaluations from the Gallup World Poll.

The Nordic country and its neighbours Denmark, Iceland, Sweden and Norway all score very well on the measures the report uses to explain its findings which include: healthy life expectancy, GDP per capita, social support, low corruption, generosity in a community where people look after each other and freedom to make key life decisions.

Eujenijus Radlinskas / Wikimedia

So, what can other societies learn from these rankings? What are they doing that others aren’t? Helliwell, who is a professor emeritus at the Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia, said: “Is it, are they doing things that we wish we’d seen before and we can start doing?

“Or is it something unique about their climate and history that make them different? And fortunately, at least from my perspective, the answer is the former.” The report says: “The objective of every institution should be to contribute what it can to human wellbeing.”

Since last year, Israel has moved up to number 4 from number 9.  The Netherlands (No. 5), Switzerland (No. 8), Luxembourg (No. 9) and New Zealand (No. 10) round out the top 10.

Australia (No. 12), Canada (No. 13), Ireland (No. 14), the United States (No. 15) and the United Kingdom (No. 19) all made it into the top 20. 

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Lithuania is a new entry breaking into the top 20 having had a steady climb over the last six years all the way from 52nd place. It replaced France which dropped down from 20th place to number 21.

The Least Happiest Nations

At the very bottom of the list lies Afghanistan at number 137. Lebanon is only one place above at number 136. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has thrown both countries into the spotlight since the war broke out last year — when the report was also released. In this year’s rankings, Russia is number 70 and Ukraine is number 92.

It says: “despite the magnitude of suffering and damage in Ukraine, life evaluations in September 2022 remained higher than in the aftermath of the 2014 annexation, supported now by a stronger sense of common purpose, benevolence, and trust in Ukrainian leadership.”

Looking forward, the pandemic has spurred a lot of reflection. “People are rethinking their life objectives,” Helliwell said. “They’re saying, ‘I’m going back, but what am I going back to? What do I want to go back to? How do I want to spend the rest of my life?’”

Bernard Spragg / Wikimedia

He’s hoping this ‘move towards thinking about values and other people more explicitly’ will affect not just factors such as which jobs or schools people choose, but also how they operate within those environments.

He added: “It isn’t really about the grades or the salary, it’s about cooperating with other people in a useful way. And of course, that’s useful for the world, but the whole point of this happiness research is that it’s also good for the people doing it.

“In other words, you do end up feeling better about yourself if you’re actually looking after other people rather than number one.”

World’s Happiest Countries 2023

  1. Finland
  2. Denmark
  3. Iceland
  4. Israel
  5. Netherlands
  6. Sweden
  7. Norway
  8. Switzerland
  9. Luxembourg
  10. New Zealand
  11. Austria
  12. Australia
  13. Canada
  14. Ireland
  15. United States
  16. Germany
  17. Belgium
  18. Czech Republic
  19. United Kingdom
  20. Lithuania 

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