World Happiness Report is an annual publication of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network based on questions asked individuals from 140+ countries by the Gallup World Poll.
Core questions are categorized: Business-Economics; Citizen Engagement; Education-Families; Environment-Energy; Food-Shelter; Communication-Technology; Government-Politics; Health; Law and order; Religion-Ethics; Social Issues; and so on. Mind boggling in number, many questions are skewed to elicit politically correct responses no matter the answer, i.e. “How serious of a threat is global warming to you and your family?” Since only certain types of people take interest or time to answer polls, real population cross-section results are problematical, but Gallup’s own website headline is not shy about where the questions are actually leading (for use by the agenda-driven UN): “The Gallup World Poll is the single most accurate source of global economic data in existence today. You can drive change with the Gallup Poll.” (Emphasis added).
Finland has placed first in Happiness for the past two years.
In interviews with citizens, “free” comes up most often as the reason for happiness: free education, free health care, and even free money. The Finns experimented with the latter scheme by randomly choosing 2,000 unemployed citizens to receive the equivalent of $635 in Universal Basic Income every month for two years, insuring recipients that payments would continue even if they got a job. (This notion is now being promoted in many countries, including America). Results? UBI recipients were no more likely to pursue employment than those on the current welfare system. The Finnish economy is laden with problems, including high unemployment. After a March collapse of the government over health care administration, the recent April 14 elections (with many parties running) resulted in Social Democrats claiming a narrow win of 17.7 percent over the Eurosceptic Finns Party’s 17.5 percent, proving that political strife remains unimproved.
So why is Finland rated the happiest country?
Anu Partanen, a recently repatriated Finnish author who lived for a decade in NYC gave clues to HuffPost: “Finnish society has been built in such a way that people are supported but still feel like they have control over their lives.” She further opined that “Most people would like a life where they can get health care if they get sick, where they hopefully feel fulfilled in their work, while still being able to spend time with loved ones. It’s not that Finns are necessarily looking to become immensely rich. I think Finland just does a pretty good job of helping people achieve this lovely, ordinary life.”
What are the operative words here? “. . .but still feel like they have control over their lives.” And “. . . helping people achieve this lovely, ordinary life.” (Emphases added). Translation: they don’t really have control of their lives, and they are content to lead ordinary lives.
Is this happiness?
Traditional Western heritage wisdom was built on the idea that liberty was the necessary foundation for individuals to decide (and provide) what constitutes happiness for themselves. America was founded on this principle. Only in the past century have we begun hearing clamor for “free this and that” provided by any government, an entity that produces nothing but confiscates money (taxes) from some citizens for its own bloated existence as well as for “re-distribution” to others. Government freebies are about material support and comfort. But is happiness based on goods and services? America’s founders didn’t think so.
Let’s go back farther in time to the cradle of Western civilization itself, ancient Greece. Eudaemonia is the Greek word for human flourishing. Aristotle used it to describe happiness as an abiding inner state of fulfillment achieved by actively pursuing a virtuous life founded upon a reasoned value system. He most emphatically did not define “happiness” as a state of contentment provided by others.
In "Nicomachean Ethics" (Friedo Ricken, "Philosophy of the Ancients," University of Notre Dame Press, 1991) Aristotle was specific:
The end or good of human beings lies in the activity that the rational soul (psyche; mind) of human beings exercises due to its highest capabilities and in its best condition. Happiness consists not in having or receiving but rather in being active. Happiness requires effort. It is a function that human beings must exercise. The higher the exercised capabilities are, the more intense the experience of happiness will be.
“Happiness,” then, is not I feel good because I receive free stuff and services, but I feel good because I am good, meaning “I am the best I can be.” Ergo: Our “best” is a constantly evolving, “becoming” activity because if we are morally virtuous, intellectually inquisitive, and productively self-sustaining by way of ever improving our capabilities, we are always a “work-in-progress.” If, as Aristotle claimed, happiness is activity (becoming-producing) rather than passivity (ordinary-receiving) then it follows that we each must take responsibility for ourselves. We must strive for satisfaction in our abilities and stretch our capabilities to be the best we each can become and never be a burden to others by force of government laws.
Happiness is a worthy goal. But authentic happiness is not a collective condition. Free education and health care are not about being “happy”; they are about being dependent and letting government control both mind and body. Happiness is a state of being achieved by individuals employing independent thinking and self-supporting activity, thus creating self-earned happiness. The only “free” that leads to genuine happiness is freedom of choice regarding all aspects of life decisions — including education, health care — that affect personal wellbeing.
Alexandra York is an author and founding president of the American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART) a New-York-City-based nonprofit educational arts and culture foundation (www.art-21.org). She has written for many publications, including "Reader’s Digest" and The New York Times. Her latest book is "Adamas." For more on Alexandra York, Go Here Now.
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