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Smile – it’s International Day of Happiness

A new survey coinciding with International Day of Happiness (March 20) has found that the vast majority of people think levels of happiness and well-being matter more than the size of the economy.

In a YouGov poll commissioned by Action for Happiness, a movement which has more than 32,000 members from more than  140 countries, a majority (87%) of UK adults were found to prefer the ‘greatest overall happiness and wellbeing’, rather than the ‘greatest overall wealth’ (8%), for the society they live in. This majority was found to be broadly consistent across all regions, age groups and social classes.

When asked to select the three changes they thought would most increase the overall happiness and wellbeing of people in the UK, ‘more equality between rich and poor’ came out as the most selected factor, with 45% of people choosing this; the next highest response was ‘improved health services’ (39%). Of the choices offered, the least important were found to be ‘improved school standards’ (16%) and ‘improved transport and infrastructure’ (16%).

When asked to select the three most important factors for their own happiness and wellbeing, ‘my relationships with my partner/family’ was the most selected factor, with 80% of people choosing this; the next highest was ‘my health’ (71%), with ‘my money and financial situation’ a distant third (42%). The least important factors were found to be ‘my possessions’ (4%) and ‘my appearance’ (4%).

The Action for Happiness  is backed by leading experts from psychology, education, economics, business and social innovation. It provides evidence-based ideas and materials to enable practical action to create happier homes, workplaces and communities.

Action for Happiness Director, Dr Mark Williamson said: “The economy dominates our political and social discussions, but this survey shows that happiness is more important to people. The vast majority of people would prefer society to be happier rather than richer. So we need to spend less time focusing on the size of the economy and more time focusing on how to help people live happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.”

The International Day of Happiness was decreed in 2012 by the United National General Assembly and was celebrated for the first time last year. It’s founding followed a resolution by the UNGA which recognised happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and called for “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes… happiness and well-being of all peoples”.