It’s not uncommon to hear people wish that we could return to the “good old days,” when the world seemed more prosperous. Of course, depending on how far you go back, the “good old days” might cover a time when the world was poised on the edge of a nuclear precipice, when the Soviet Union and other communist governments basically enslaved more than 50% of the world’s population, when racism was practiced openly and codified in the legal system, when there was no Internet or smartphones, and when TV entertainment consisted of three or sometimes four channels on a heavy, small-screen device that didn’t include a remote.
The World Happiness Report is out, and a group of independent experts have now compiled surveys of people in 156 countries, asking them to evaluate their lives on a scale of 1-10. They then looked at some of the factors that seem to contribute to happiness, and identified five: real GDP per capita (a measure of average wealth); healthy life expectancy at birth; freedom to make life choices; generosity; and whether or not they perceived their society to have elements of corruption.
For years, the U.S. life expectancy was among the longest in the world, a natural byproduct of the fact that the U.S. is wealthier, per capita, than other nations. Indeed, a research report in the medical journal The Lancet projects that between now and 2030, women in the U.S. will live an average 83.3 years (up from 81.2 today) and men an average of 79.5 years (up from 76.5 today).
Most of us suspect that the world is going to hell in a handbasket—or at least getting worse over the long term. In the U.S., only 4% of respondents will tell you that our world living conditions are improving.
Happy new year! Did you ever wonder how January 1 became the day when one year ends and another begins? Or why this handoff from one year to the next takes place a few weeks after the shortest day of the year? Why are there 12 months instead of, say, 25 or 50?
Are you getting enough sleep? If not, you might be costing your employer significant productivity, which the Rand Europe think tank has now translated into aggregate dollars across the global economy.
Are you ready to achieve work-life balance? The American Sociological Review has published a study showing that most of us struggle—which is a fancy word for “fail”—in this important endeavor. But there’s hope. The study also found that the minority of people who HAVE managed to achieve some form of the work/life holy grail are doing certain things well.