World Happiness Report

The World Happiness Report conducted by the UN declared Denmark to be the happiest country on planet earth. Hence Danes are exulting in the fact that out of 156 countries considered, their lives are the happiest. Knud Christensen, a 39-year-old social worker, knows one reason why his compatriots are laid-back –  they feel secure in a country with few natural disasters, little corruption and a near absence of drastic events.

“We have no worries,” Christensen said, smiling, as he stood on a Copenhagen street near the capital’s City Hall. “And if we do worry, it’s about the weather: will it rain today, or remain gray, or will it be cold?” The Scandinavian nation of 5.6 million has held the happiness title twice before since the world body had started “measuring” happiness around the world in 2012. The accolade is based on a variety of factors: people’s health and access to medical care, family relations, job security and social factors, political freedom, and degree of government corruption.

Why do we study and research happiness, not misery? It’s because we are pleasure-seeking by nature. In fact the Vedas also describe God in terms of His pleasure-seeking nature. One meaning of Kåñëa is “the highest pleasure.” God is also described as the reservoir or storehouse of all pleasure. We all hanker for pleasure in all pursuits of life, and therefore the Vedanta-sutra (1.1.12) declares, anandamayo ’bhyasat: living beings will always seek out pleasure.

Anyone who is conscious is seeking pleasure. Inanimate objects do not exhibit this quality. God is full of consciousness and hence full of pleasure, and thus the living beings, also being conscious, hanker after pleasure. But why is it that even after knowing that we only want pleasure, the quality of our lives is mostly just the opposite? Why can’t we be perpetually happy? God is perpetually happy, so why can’t we be too? In order to be perpetually happy, we need to associate with God, engage with Him and participate in His activities. Thus we can also be happy for ever after. God has created this material world to enable us to learn how to perform activities for His satisfaction, so that while in the material world, we can live comfortably without anxiety, and after the present material body dies, enter into the kingdom of God.

Not all Danes are rejoicing, however, as someone honestly pointed out in an internet forum. While this report is correct, it does not mention one vital piece of information: Danes are also the highest consumers of Prozac (an anti-depressant drug).