News Stories

How to Find Happiness

If you want to be happy, move to someplace where more people report feeling that way. However, the happiest countries may not be the ones you want to go to. And don't get breast implants, unless you want to become seriously depressed.

An analysis of happiness in more than 65 countries by the World Values Survey shows Nigeria has the highest percentage of happy people, followed by Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador and Puerto Rico, while Russia, Armenia and Romania have the fewest. They say, "New Zealand ranked 15 for overall satisfaction, the U.S. 16th, Australia 20th and Britain 24th?though Australia beats the other three for day-to-day happiness."

The things that make people happy vary. Personal success, self-expression, pride, and a high sense of self-esteem are important in the United States. "In Japan, on the other hand, it comes from fulfilling the expectations of your family, meeting your social responsibilities, self-discipline, cooperation and friendliness," the researchers say.

The study shows that happiness has remained the same in industrialized countries since World War II, even though incomes have risen, except for Denmark, where people have become more satisfied with life over the last three decades.

But one thing that doesn't make people happy is getting more things. The study says, "Survey after survey has shown that the desire for material goods, which has increased hand in hand with average income, is a happiness suppressant."

One example of this is the fact that women who can afford the luxury of breast implants are more than three times as likely to commit suicide. Ceci Connolly writes in The Washington Post that studies in Finland, Sweden and the U.S. all show the same reaction. This isn't true with women who?ve had mastectomies, only with those who enlarge their breasts for cosmetic reasons.

Being able to spend money this way is an incredible luxury, so why does it leave women so depressed? Researchers think that women who want this kind of procedure think it will solve their psychological and dating problems?and then find out it doesn't. "The ironic thing is that nobody was looking for this suicide information," says Joseph K. McLaughlin, who ran the Finnish study. "There have been lots of studies of women with breast implants, and the only consistent finding that's problematic is the suicide excess."

Women's advocate Diana Zuckerman says, "Tripling the risk of suicide is a shocking finding?growing evidence that the 'cure' might be worse than the problem it is supposed to solve. We can't just go along with the manufacturer's assumptions that implants are great for women's mental health."

One key to happiness is finding inner peace.

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