“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. But happiness is a tricky thing. Can you just ask people how happy they are? What if they’re lying? What if they’re lying to themselves? Do you measure their quality of life in terms of economic and social welfare? Who said those things bring happiness? Why then do some poorer countries consistently rate a lot higher than many richer countries in terms of self-reported happiness? It’s definitely not a straightforward thing.
Life satisfaction, however, is by nature such a subjective thing, that asking people outright about it is a perfectly good way to find that out. After all, how else could you measure it? This is what the latest survey, the OECD Better Life Index, tries to accomplish – it simply asks people how satisfied they are with life in a variety of areas: housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, civic engagement, health, life satisfaction and work-life balance.
And according to their findings, Icelanders are the second most satisfied nation in the world after Denmark, but that’s fine. No really. We don’t mind. We’re FINE.
This may surprise some, considering recent strikes and political controversies, and even lead the more cynical of us to ask if Icelanders are just kidding themselves about how dissatisfied they are?
But when you look at the parameters of the study, the environment remains beautiful and plentiful, education is still readily attainable and virtually free, the nation is still relatively healthy; and work-life balance, with long holidays and widespread maternity/paternity leave, remain incredibly good here despite recent controversies, even if income and housing may suffer temporary setbacks.
In other news, we’ve just found out that the mosquito has at long last made its way to Iceland, so we’ll look forward to seeing how that affects our ranking next year.