These 6 things explain 75% of how happy you are

A study that looked at the degree of happiness among people in 155 countries in the world identified six common factors which determine about 75% of how happy people are likely to be, according to Meik Wiking, founder and CEO of The Happiness Research Institute based in Denmark.

Wiking spoke to Fin24 at the recent Global Leadership Conference (GLC) and Young Presidents Organisation (YPO) EDGE gathering in Cape Town. It was attended by more than 3 000 CEOs from over 135 countries.

According to Wiking, at a governmental level in the world there is a shift from just looking at productivity, growth and economic indicators, to also looking at "soft indicators" to see if peoples' lives can be improved.

"We are also working with several companies to look at overall life satisfaction levels among their employees. We are regularly measuring their quality of life anonymously," he said.

"I think we are now within science able to measure what matters to people and we have good metrics to inform decision and policy making and shape conditions for good lives. We can see companies and governments implementing these measures. Science can help us make better decisions to improve the quality of life."

In his view, the first step is for companies is to start measuring these soft indicators like happiness.

"Hopefully they will see there are some good business case arguments to be made for this kind of approach," said Wiking.

"We ask them why not use science to understand how we can improve well-being which has a positive impact on the bottom line."

6 key factors determining 75% of how happy you are:

  • Wealth;
  • The freedom to make decisions about your life;
  • The level of absence of corruption (both in government and in the business sector);
  • A healthy life expectancy;
  • The level of "generosity" in a society;
  • Having social support.

In Wiking's view, it would be wise for governments to focus on cultivating these six "happiness" factors in their countries.

"Looking at economic equality in a country is very important, but there is a growing realisation that one must also look at the level of inequality in terms of well-being," said Wiking.

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