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The Pursuit of Happiness in poor Latin-America

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According to a lot of indexes, Latin America is the happiest place on earth. Though poor, people seem to generally enjoy life. See: http://univisionnews.tumblr.com/post/25175114944/latin-america-happiness-index-costa-rica

I have a friend who is currently living in Europe, and has lived in several Latin American countries, he can confirm that people there are just happier day to day, although they have much less money. 

Any idea why that is the case? We could learn a bit. Maybe while still keeping a higher degree of capitalism and freedom ;D

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"In order to calculate a country’s overall “happiness,” the economists at NEF look at three things: the life expectancy of its citizens, experienced well-being, and the ecological footprint."

 

Trying to measure happiness statistically is already a futile effort without trying to impose the size of someone's "ecological footprint" as a factor.

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Happiness indices are pretty suspect. OTOH, people have lived for centuries at standards of living that are far below today's, and many of them have been happy. Similarly, a lot of people think it obvious that they would be happier if they were rich, but it often does not turn out that way.

One aspect is that money is one type of value. It is important because it allows us to acquire all sorts of values. Yet, there are values that money cannot buy.

A second aspect is that even the availability of values does not automatically bring happiness. People have certain expectations of values, and are often unhappy in the presence of a large number of values, if they expect much more.

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I remember hearing of a study done many years ago, in which people around the world were asked: "How happy are you? Do you consider yourself to be a happy person?"

 

People in Russia could not understand the question. "You mean, am I happy right now? At this moment?" "No, generally, in your life."

 

The idea of living "a happy life" was apparently incomprehensible to most Russians. Happiness was — at best — experienced as a fleeting emotion, not a way of being.

 

I agree that any study which includes "ecological footprint" as an element of happiness should be regarded as worthless.

Edited by Kevin Delaney
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Happiness statistics are as subjective as happiness itself. I have several comments:

 

A) Happiness may be interpreted as having a balanced life. Latin America is the richest and least populated of the poorest sector of the World. Hence some countries in LatAm are actually quiet in the 'middle' of many factors. Costa Rica is a perfect example it being the richest and most European '(sorry for mentioning it) of the entire region after Uruguay which is too cold to be happy.

 

B ) Poor people smile a lot. Tropical people smile a lot.  Brazilians love sugar from actual fruits, not corn, and they enjoy their sugar highs.  They also like sex and consider it something to be consumed, not had.

 

C) Latin Americans always answer yes, even if they (we intend, I am one) to say no. This may be striking for the foreign visitor, even utterly frustrating, but when you ask anyone where/whether it's possible to get something or somewhere the answer shall always be 'SI', yes. if they meant to say 'negative' they will answer yes followed by a convoluted excuse that explains that while 'yes' the subject is willing to please you, the subject wont or isn't capable of.

 

Complacency has been seen as a desirable attribute by the Catholic masters that conditioned the submitted populace for five hundred years.

Some more recent non Catholic immigrants are just as baffled by these attitudes and so we build our lives around an expatriation plan.

Edited by volco
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"In order to calculate a country’s overall “happiness,” the economists at NEF look at three things: the life expectancy of its citizens, experienced well-being, and the ecological footprint."

 

Trying to measure happiness statistically is already a futile effort without trying to impose the size of someone's "ecological footprint" as a factor.

How to we objectify or quantify "well being"?  We can do so for health,  for longevity,  for strength,  for durability.  I do not see how we can do it for happiness or well being.  One man's well being is another man's misery.

 

ruveyn1

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In stark contrast to 'happier countries' we have the 'most livable' cities index in which Austrian Switz, Canadian, and Australian cities always come on top with the only non Western exception being Tokyo as the rara avis of the group. The criteria would be 'living conditions'. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World%27s_most_livable_cities example:

The EIU's Global Liveability Report[1][2]   City Country Rating 1 Melbourne 22px-Flag_of_Australia.svg.png Australia 97.5 2 Vienna 22px-Flag_of_Austria.svg.png Austria 97.4 3 Vancouver 22px-Flag_of_Canada.svg.png Canada 97.3 4 Toronto 22px-Flag_of_Canada.svg.png Canada 97.2 5 Adelaide 22px-Flag_of_Australia.svg.png Australia 96.6 5 Calgary 22px-Flag_of_Canada.svg.png Canada 96.6 7 Sydney 22px-Flag_of_Australia.svg.png Australia 96.1 8 Helsinki 22px-Flag_of_Finland.svg.png Finland 96.0 9 Perth 22px-Flag_of_Australia.svg.png Australia 95.9 10 Auckland 22px-Flag_of_New_Zealand.svg.png New Zealand 95.7 Edited by volco
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