I *Told* You Fun Was Important

Somebody notify the folks at Disney: according to this recent expert study that's in all the papers, the tiny Pacific nation of Vanuatu, situated off the northeast coast of Australia, is the Happiest Place on Earth.

They looked around, these experts, and studied things like general satisfaction, life expectancy and environmental impact. What they found was that the "top" eight countries of the world -- those with the most global influence and GDPs -- used far more resources than everybody else but didn't manage to make their citizens measurably happier.

In Vanuatu, for instance, folks live to be 70 or so, honor the land comprising their 83-island archipelago, and report being pretty okay with seven decades spent growing the food they need and fishing in the sparkling sea.

Care to guess how the U.S. fared in the worldwide happiness index?

150th. Out of 178. We beat Russia and Zimbabwe, but that's about it. Canadians, you came in 111th.

Truthfully, it's not so much a straight joy-of-life comparison as a bang-for-the-buck chart. What the New Economics Foundation really looked at is our ability to live long and prosper without putting our planet in a Vulcan Death Grip.

And we, not to put too fine a point on it, pretty much suck.

Interestingly, do you know why they value the land so highly in Vanuatu? Because they're not sure whose it is. 26 years ago, when they gained independence from France and Britain, all the land was supposed to go back to its original owners. Unfortunately -- no, wait, *fortunately* -- no one can agree on who that is.

If only we had such uncertainty here in North America. Here we know whose land we're on; we just don't really care.

Can you imagine if we were happy enough to justify our consumption? It's often estimated that if the whole world lived like the "first" world (The U.S., Britain, Germany, Japan, and so forth), we'd need at least three earths to sustain us.

I have a hard time picturing that -- and I'm sure commuting would be a pain -- but I do like picturing a single earth where nobody lives beyond their means. Tearing through our resources like it's our job should, by the scope of this study, result in everyone grinning from ear to ear nonstop, pirouetting off park benches and doing backflips in the cereal aisle, practically giddy with happiness.

I don't need that, though.

To tell you the truth, I'd be satisfied with a peaceful life of self-sustenance, wandering forests, reading books and sharing space with people I love. That would be plenty for me.

Especially if I can do it in Vanuatu.


Anonymous said...

see? This is exactly the kind of stuff that gets me. The wate, the waste and for what?! It doesn't make us any happier. Not one bit. Not even us Canadians. (although I've got to day, overall, I'm pretty happy. But the stuff that makes me happiest? Robin's eggs, blueberries, acorns, new litle clusters of pinecones. beach rocks, beach glass, driftwood, my dog, my dog, my dog!, art, drawing, chocolate, leaves, flowers, the husband... and guess what? most of that is FREE!)

In the same vein, have you seen the latesst Hummer commercials? I'm not sure if they have the same ones in the US, but hey completely enrage me. The catch phrase for the male one is: Restore your manhood. (to which John thinks should be added: "by being a gas-guzzling, environment destroying pollut-o-pig"


xo Wee

Anonymous said...

er... as per usual, my ability to type has been detrimentally affected by my passion and ire. Oy vey.

Colin said...

Yep - we get that crap too. The female one might be even worse... with that tagline "get your girl on" and the plot consisting of a woman seeing her child shoved aside on the playground by some smarmy other lady's kid, so she goes out and buys a Hummer.

You keep waiting for the joke, but it never comes. The whole thing's a joke.

Jan said...

Hey Colin, Jack has the evil Ivy now. He hasn't tried the blow dryer treatment yet.

Jan said...

Oh crap...now I have it too.