• UN General Assembly in its resolution 66/281 of July 12, 2012 proclaimed March 20 the International Day of Happiness,
• On the same day, the opposition in Kenya lead protests in Nairobi and other parts of the country over among other issues, the high cost of living.
International Happiness Day was marked on Monday, March 20, and the World Happiness Report 2023 launch on the same day.
UN General Assembly in its resolution 66/281 of July 12, 2012 proclaimed March 20 the International Day of Happiness, recognizing the relevance of happiness and well-being as a universal goal and aspiration around the world.
On the same day, the opposition in Kenya lead protests in Nairobi and other parts of the country over among other issues, the high cost of living.
Kenya ranked 111 out of 137 on the World Happiness Report.
These protests, therefore, signify that a huge number of Kenyans are dissatisfied by their country/ government, which ultimately has an impact on their wellbeing. Some change is thus needed.
On the other hand, Finland was once again named the world’s happiest country. The nation, home to 5.5 million people, has now held the title for six years running. Mauritius ranks as Africa’s happiest country, while Afghanistan remains at bottom of the index of the World Happiness Report
According to the UN, the impact of public policy objectives on happiness cannot be swept under the carpet. The happiness report also recognises the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples.
According to the report, the natural way to measure a nation’s happiness is to ask a nationally-representative sample of people how satisfied they are with their lives.
There is a lot that has happened and is happening in Kenya. Covid-19 struck all spheres of life, from the economy, education to health and our systems in general. Health issues have been part and parcel of our society, high unemployment rate, security, divisive politics to name but a few, and that is why we have a lot of international partners coming in to assist.
So much has been done through the national and international partnerships with so many success stories. However, a lot still needs to be done to achieve a satisfactory level of happiness in Kenya, which serves as a model state to other African nations.
From the report, a population will only experience high levels of overall life satisfaction if its people are also pro-social, healthy, and prosperous. In other words, the people must have high levels of what Aristotle called ‘eudaimonia’. So at the level of society, life satisfaction and eudaimonia go hand-in-hand.
When they assess a society, a situation, or a policy, we should not look only at the average happiness it brings (including for future generations). They look especially at the scale of misery (i.e., low life satisfaction. To prevent misery, governments and international organisations should protect rights that are well documented by the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
They should also implement the Sustainable Development Goals to consider well-being and environmental policy dimensions to make citizen’s lives comfortable. These rights and goals are essential tools for increasing human happiness and reducing misery now and into the future.
The report mentions that, once happiness is accepted as the goal of the government, it has other profound effects on institutional practices. The study emphasizes that health, especially mental health, takes more priority, as does the quality of work, family life, and community.
Even in its simplest of ways, some countries have lived up to concepts around happiness. According to Visit Denmark, Hygge a Danish term on happiness, goes far in illuminating the Danish soul.
In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Cosying up with a loved one for a movie – that’s hygge, too. And there's nothing more hygge than sitting around with friends and family, discussing the big and small things in life. Perhaps hygge explains why the Danes, who rank second on the report, are some of the happiest people in the world.
The government should have happiness as a priority, engage experts to make policies around it and develop specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound ways of improving the general well being of Kenyans.
This will in turn reduce the protests and eventually improve our international outlook.
Vera is a part time lecturer and a communications researcher [email protected]