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The 'World Happiness Report' Tells The World Nothing About Happiness
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Keith P. Felty  -- Author, Happiness Expert & Trial Attorney Keith P. Felty -- Author, Happiness Expert & Trial Attorney
Detroit, MI
Thursday, April 22, 2021

 
The "World Happiness Report" Tells The World Nothing About HappinessHappiness is an end. It's the culmination of a journey. It's the sum of many pursuits. Outsideforces do not pursue; actions are up to the individual. Such forces may influence pursuits, butonly if one lets them. The "World Happiness Report" is an interesting compilation of data andconclusions published each year. The authors compare countries throughout the world with the"central purpose. . .to measure and use subjective well-being to track and explain the quality oflives all over the globe" There are two flaws in the approach which demonstrate that the reportreally tells us nothing about happiness.

The first flaw is that the study really does not assess happiness at all. Happiness comes fromwithin. Therefore, to study "subjective" happiness of individuals seems on point initially.However, the authors acknowledge that they really measured "well-being" which is notsynonymous with happiness. Asking individuals subjective questions about well-being, trust ofothers and perceived security during a snapshot moment in time has almost no bearing onhappiness. While some current outside influences like COVID may crush "well-being" during afleeting moment in time for some, the same events may very well become a boon for another.One person's inability to work is another's opportunity to create new income streams. Further,the next extrinsic influence may come along and change everything. Happiness is not a snapshotin time, nor is it determined by extrinsic events, big or small. Happiness is a culmination ofone's actions throughout all of life's experiences—the journey begins within.

The second flaw is a presumption that a country's relative happiness may be presumed fromsubjective responses to a few categorical questions. It cannot be. There are infinite pursuits thatindividuals choose and infinite reasons such choices are made. Those pursuits come fromfoundational life choices and not temporal reactions to external influences. Only foundationaland internal life influences create happiness over time. Happiness is a sum of innumerableactions. Perhaps freedom, safety, peace, wealth and other qualities of a country may be assessedby such questions. However, happiness encompasses all of these concepts and can never bequantified collectively no matter how it is studied or the manner in which surveys are performed.Happiness will always be the elusive end that it is—and thank God for that—because it keeps theunhappy from learning how to take it away!

If happiness could be determined through "subjective well-being" and "quality of life" inresponse to extrinsic factors like COVID, then responses in countries should be relativelyhomogeneous, but that is just not true. Two people from any given country, in the macro, havethe same extrinsic influences—a level of freedom, ability to earn, travel, obtain food & otherthings, and so on. They also have infinite thoughts and innumerable reactions to events. The factis, there will always be many "happy" people and many miserable people, even within the samecity, on the same block, or in the same family. Grouping them together masks the realfoundation of happiness—individual choice. Making choices based in goodness is the path tohappiness over time.

The truth is that happiness cannot really be measured, but the ability to pursue it can. Pursuit isaction and it requires a choice. There is only one place in the world that was founded upon, andhas vowed to protect, the pursuit. America. Any time America falls below #1 on a "happiness"list, the study is not about happiness, but other things like "subjective well-being" or "quality oflife" These concepts are not happiness, they are just others' opinions. Happiness is an end statethat Aristotle essentially described as a culmination of life's choices advancing goodness.Happiness = (action + virtue) x time. This is the equation of the pursuit. Keep pursuing, keepadding to your end sum, and when you're done, you will have been happy.

Keith P. Felty

kfelty@sullivanwardlaw.com

americathehappy@gmail.com734-891-6795
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Name: Keith P. Felty
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Dateline: Canton, MI United States
Direct Phone: 734-891-6795
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