On the heels of a 2019 Leger Survey measuring Canada’s “Happiness Index,” pollsters revealed that while most Canadians regard themselves as being ‘happy,’ apparently Ontarians are Canada’s most ‘miserable’ people.
There has been much attention given over the years to the whole theme of happiness, how to measure it, and how to assess various national levels of happiness – as if such a measurement has some objective significance, meaning, or application. Does it? Is happiness even a ‘thing’?
In popular usage, it is clear that the word ‘happiness’ is used in differing contexts: from describing a day-to-day mood evaluation to an evaluation of life’s satisfaction.
Most dictionaries define ‘happiness’ in terms related to “the enjoyment of pleasure without pain,” – a very limited focus indeed if used as the sole standard of national ‘happiness’ measurement surveys.
At the other end of the scale is a description of ‘happiness’ as offered by philosopher/novelist Ayn Rand: “Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values.” In this view, psychological pain or pleasure can be the punishment or reward related to the failure or achievement of those values.
How differing individuals view and experience their personal level of happiness (or the lack of it) reveals a consistency that should not be surprising: happiness has always been associated with freedom, and with good reason.
After all, it is only in a free society that most are able to pursue a measure of happiness that’s Just Right for them.