The Dutch are among the happiest people in the world
Norwegians have every reason to celebrate the UN International Day of Happiness today, but so do we. Norway is officially the world's happiest country, according to the latest World Happiness Report, released today by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations. But the Netherlands is sixth. Hooray! We are among the happiest people in the world. But why?
Happiness is genetically determined, says Professor Meike Bartels, one of the keynote speakers at the A World to Win Conference, organised by the Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization (EHERO) and the Erasmus Institute for Philosophy and Economics (EIPE).
According to Bartels, some people are born with a genetic make-up which enables them to feel happy easily, while others are born with a genetic make-up which causes them to be more or less sensitive to environmental conditions. So maybe Dutch people are happy because we have ‘happy genes’.
If you want to find out what makes us truly happy, you should attend the conference at Erasmus University Rotterdam, running from 20-24 March 2017, where the central theme is 'The Value of Happiness: A World To Win'.
One of the speakers is Ruut Veenhoven, Emeritus Professor of Social Conditions for Human Happiness at Erasmus University Rotterdam and Director of the World Database of Happiness. When we asked him what true happiness is, he said: 'Just like health, happiness is determined by many different things. First of all the basic stuff, like a fair income and a social life. But happiness is also a by-product of keeping yourself busy. It doesn’t really matter in what way: taking care of your family, working, or a hobby.
'Comparing yourself to others might also be useful because we are not too good at determining our own happiness. We remember highs and lows, but it’s the average that counts. Like just sitting on the couch with your loved one.'
The Key to Happiness
Many things – including material gain – can improve people’s happiness, but there is only one factor which determines the majority of wellbeing: other people. The quality and quantity of social and intimate relations play an important role as determinants of happiness. Lonely people are usually very unhappy, states Professor Stefano Bartolini, another keynote speaker at the conference.
If other people make you happy, you should most definitely attend the Happiness Conference, where you'll find yourself among the likes of Professor Ruut Veenhoven, Jan Peter Balkenende, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands, and Johanna Thoma, Assistant Professor at the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at the London School of Economics.
Find out more about the A World to Win Conference here.
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Text: Manon Sikkel Daelmans