We have a gloomy outlook, according to the Happy Planet Index.
The 2012 Happy Planet Index released last week has ranked South Africa 142 out of 151 countries with regards to wellbeing (happiness), life expectancy and ecological footprint.
The happiest country, for the second time in a row, is Costa Rica. It has the second highest life expectancy in the Americas, with greater well-being than many of the richer nations and its ecological footprint is one-third the size of the USA’s per capita.
Coming in second place is Vietman followed by Columbia. The least happy countries are Chad coming in at 150 and Botswana at 151.
The creator of the index from New Economics Foundation, Nic Marks, said: "The index measures what really matters – long and happy lives now and the potential for good lives in the future. For too long we have relied on incomplete measures of progress that focus only on economic activity, such as gross domestic product. Rich and poor nations face different challenges but their ultimate goal is the same."
South Africa scored 52.8 on life expectancy, 4.7 on wellbeing, 2.6 on ecological footprint and its index score is 28.2. The ecological footprint refers not only to resource consumption but to how this resource consumption can be preserved for future use. It does not help a country to consume a great deal of resources and have a high well-being while not making sure that these resources will be available in the future.
Life coach Kirsten Long says that the unhappiness of South Africans can be linked to poverty. She says that people need a certain amount of money to fulfil their basic needs then after that it is more to do with attitude and outlook on life. Unfortunately many South Africans do not have enough money to fulfil their basic needs.
With regards to bettering our wellbeing, Long says, “Improving wellbeing is a multi-dimensional task. Eat right so that you are healthy. Socialise often so that you feel happy. Work hard so that you feel fulfilled. Pray often so that you feel connected. Live according to your own value system so that you feel congruent. All of these nuances add up to a feeling of wellbeing.”
“I don’t believe people can be 100% happy all the time and nor should they strive to be. If you focus on what’s right and what’s working in your life then you will generally be a happy person. When life sends some strife, accept that you will be unhappy for a while. Continue to focus on what’s right and working, and soon you will be experiencing happiness again.”