I’ve just completed reading the recently released 100+ pages of the United Nations General Assembly sanctioned World Happiness Report (Helliwell, John F., Richard Layard, and Jeffrey Sachs, eds. 2013. World Happiness Report 2013. New York: UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network).
I’m sure that our newly elected Prime Minister, Tony Abbott and his ministerial cabinet and colleagues will begin the process of policy development and implementation, being relatively impressed that as a nation, Australia currently ranks 10th out of 155 nations, ahead of the United States (14) and the United Kingdom (22).
For a summary you can read Megan Willett’s article in Business Insider Australia to see a list of the top 25 ranked countries.
We often hear that Australia is the ‘Lucky Country’, and it would seem that these latest research results would validate that in some way. But what does it mean to be the lucky country?
Is it that we’re lucky because we’re a happy lot? Or is it that because we’re a happy lot, that we are lucky?
In reality, the research suggests it’s both.
When it comes to happiness, optimism and positivity, the question of cause and effect is a fascinating field of on-going research within the applied positive psychology arena.
Much of the current research is validating that while there is evidence supporting an increase in positivity, optimism and happiness occurs when ‘good (lucky) things’ happen or are achieved by individuals, the overwhelming evidence points toward people who are more positive, optimistic and happy, tend to have more ‘good (lucky) things’ happen to and for them and achieved by them.
I watched a documentary recently that had people try to define what it meant to be Australian. When we refer to Australia being the lucky country, it seems we’re referring to our sense of opportunity, freedom, fairness, culture and environment.
Beyond political policy making that can impact our overall sense of wellbeing however, there’s no doubt that it certainly comes down to our personal and intentional choices about how we choose to view our past, present and future.
What’s your intentional perspective?
Science tells us that in our work and personal environments, taking the opportunity that is available to us all, to be more positive, optimistic, and grateful, to be more intentionally mindful in more moments more often, will help us to take the best from our past and make the most of our present, to create the potential for our future to be even more happy, flourishing and prosperous.
So if as you consider your own work and personal situation and you’re sceptical about the findings for Australian’s in the World Happiness Report, perhaps one step in the right direction is to fix your perspective first. Then make sure you’re taking intentional action toward a happy, flourishing and prosperous life, rather than, unintentionally being sucked into living in a day-to-day repetitive existence.
And if you’re the pessimistic, cynical, oppositional type of person who thinks this is all just the ramblings of an optimist looking through rose coloured glasses, unfortunately, you’ve got a world of increasing scientific research that will be continually knocking on your door, and you’ll only be able to ignore it for so long until you’ll realise that while you can’t certainly control everything that’s happening to you in your life, you can certainly have a significant impact on how you think, feel and what you intentionally choose to do about it.
And that’s why I reckon Australia ranks so high on the World Happiness Report. It’s that “She’ll Be Right!” attitude where despite whatever happens around us, it seems we Australians just get on with our purpose of being here, which is to do what we can to create for ourselves and those we impact through our various life roles, the opportunity to live a happy, flourishing and prosperous life.