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He then gave the island its unpromising name.

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The World Happiness Report comes out every year, providing some data about how well-being varies from country to country and how it shifts within a country from one year to the next. But what makes some countries happier than others?

To date, she has worked with the government in her home icelandic person of Iceland, where she is the director of determinants of health and wellbeing at the Directorate of Health. Jill Suttie: What made you interested in studying social or environmental factors influencing happiness?

Even though many individual choices icelandic person happiness, how easy or difficult it is to make those choices often depends on social or environmental factors, like government welfare programs or gender equality, for example. DG: There might be many reasons for a decline in happiness. One of them might be higher expectations. In many countries, people are faring better each year—living longer, healthier lives.

So, maybe people have a stronger sense that they have the right to feel good. It may also be that many people are more open about their mental health—so, they are more willing to say when they are unhappy.

Or icelandic person might be that younger generations have less tolerance for adversity icelandic person pain both physical and mental than generations. In terms of inequality, there has always been more happiness inequality within countries than between countries. We also see that there is more happiness inequality within municipalities than between municipalities in the same country.

It would be helpful to look at those who score high in happiness and those who score low, and then monitor changes in both, to see how policies impact these groups differently. But our current measure of happiness gives us only a very limited view of the situation.

We need broader measures of mental well-being to better understand differences. JS: This year, Iceland was ranked as the fourth-happiest country in the world. What is it about Iceland that makes the people there so happy? In a small country like Iceland, it is quite easy to be in good contact with your family and friends.

Another important factor related to happiness is health, and the health status in Iceland is quite good compared to other countries. We have the lowest infant mortality rate in the world and one of the highest life expectancies; icelandic person majority of citizens have access to icelandic person health care.

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Iceland is also a very peaceful nation—for example, we have never had an army. There is a high level of trust in the society, too. Children can go places freely and play outside without supervision. Icelanders also have quite a bit of control over their lives. They have access to quality education, whatever the educational background of their parents. And Iceland is the country with the narrowest gender gap in the world, where it is now illegal to pay women less than men for the same job.

All of icelandic person makes it easy and acceptable to try out different things, so people do not feel icelandic person they are stuck in a particular path they have not chosen. Their level of safety and autonomy probably has a big impact on their happiness. JS: How much—and in what ways—is happiness affected by economic forces, according to your research?

DG: Income only predicts 1 percent of the happiness in Iceland when other factors are taken into.

At the same time, the biggest predictor for unhappiness is icelandic person financial difficulty. Those who find it difficult to make ends meet have the lowest happiness score of all groups, lower than those without a job and those with the lowest income. This means that those with the lowest income are not necessarily the same group as those with financial difficulties.


icelandic person There are people with high incomes who have financial difficulties, and that is worse for your happiness than having a lower income with no financial difficulties. What are your most surprising findings? DG: When we studied the effects of the banking system collapse in Iceland, we found that happiness among adolescents went up after the collapse, even icelandic person the happiness levels of adults went down. As it became easier for the adolescents to get emotional support from their parents, their happiness increased, even though working less may have resulted in a lower GDP [Gross Domestic Product] for the country.

JS: Do you think that having greater levels of happiness in the population acts as a kind of buffer against strong economic downturns?

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DG: Yes. When a person faces a challenge, it is likely that the level of well-being before the challenge would play a role in the impact of the challenge. A person who has low well-being and has few resources to handle adversity might be more vulnerable than a person high in well-being with more resources. In our study, we icelandic person that icelandic person who had strong relationships with their parents were not harmed by the economic crisis, while those who had weak relations with their parents had a decrease in their happiness.

So, good relations with parents are not only good for your happiness but can also act as a buffer protecting factor for your well-being in times of crisis. JS: How have governments responded to your research and used it to create policy? DG: Inpublic health authorities in Iceland decided to include public mental well-being measures in a national survey on Health and Wellbeing.

That decision had an impact on both health policies and policies for the whole society. Well-being icelandic person were then used as an indicator in the development of the Health policy for Iceland, as well as in the broader governmental policy for the economy and community, named Iceland and led by the prime minister. Public health indicators, including indicators of happiness and well-being, are published every year for seven health districts, providing profiles for each district.

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These profiles reflect the strengths and icelandic person in each district, which enables health authorities, municipalities, and other stakeholders to prioritize, plan, act, and evaluate according to the best available knowledge. For example this information has been used to distribute financial resources for mental health services around the country.

Additionally, municipalities who score below the country average in happiness have used the to develop an action plan to increase happiness among their citizens.

JS: What still needs to be done to increase resilience in your country, in your opinion? DG: In order to increase resilience, it is important to teach skills in schools—like, coping, self-efficacy, social and emotional learning, and mindfulness.

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Fortunately, we got funding from EU Horizon for developing a training program on mental resilience in schools in five European regions. The project is called UPRIGHTand its general objective is to promote mental well-being and prevent mental disorders by enhancing resilience capacities in youths.

It was icelandic person by psychologists, pedagogists, methodologists, and technology experts from around Europe, and will focus on increasing resilience in adolescents years of agetheir families, and schools; validating the effectiveness of the program; and providing scientific evidence on specific resilience factors that contribute to promote positive mental well-being. Jill Suttie, Icelandic person. She received her doctorate of psychology from the University of San Francisco in and was a psychologist in private practice before coming to Greater Good.

Become a subscribing member today. Scroll To Top The World Happiness Report comes out every year, providing some data about how well-being varies from country to country and how it shifts within a country from one year to the next. Get the science of a meaningful life delivered to your inbox.

About the Author. Jill Suttie Jill Suttie, Psy. By Kira M. By Eve EkmanEmiliana R. By Cat Johnson June 12, This article — and everything on this site — is funded by readers like you. Give Now.