Philosophically Speaking: What Factors Make a Happy Nation?

The “aggregate” happiness of individuals, married couples, families, and communities make a happy nation. Speaking from a broader perspective, one can conclude that effective leadership, good governance, and hospitable ecological conditions are also factors that contribute to the happiness of a nation. For a country to achieve and sustain a high “National Happiness Index” (NHI), there must be measures of happiness; principally, the wholesomeness of the lives of its people, underpinned by education, careers, employment, social interaction, economic self-sufficiency, lifestyle, well-being, and happiness.

There are many books, studies, articles, and international research projects on the subject of happiness, especially, as Happiest Nation and Happiest State polls have become a bigger part of the global conversation about well-being and happiness. International studies about happiness tend to focus on what a nation can afford its people regarding social and economic conditions, using measures such as a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and Gross National Product (GNP). Two other critical statistical measure such as Gross Social Progress (GSP) and Gross Happiness Progress (GHP) are essential to measure a nation’s overall Happiness Index (HI), demonstrated by living standards, quality of life, “Poverty Index” (PI), and happiness of its people.

The global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI)

There are many essential investigations taking place globally that strive to bring awareness of the need to integrate concepts of “happiness” as a primary social and economic construct. More importantly, to reduce or eliminate poverty (as one factor) in the world that undergirds unhappiness. For instance, “the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) is an international measure of acute poverty covering over 100 developing countries. It complements traditional income-based poverty measures by capturing the deprivations that each person faces at the same time concerning education, health and living standards” (

Gross National Happiness (GNH)

The phrase ‘Gross National Happiness’ was first coined by the 4th King of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in 1972 when he declared, “Gross National Happiness [GNH] is more important than Gross Domestic Product [GDP].” “The concept implies that sustainable development should take a holistic approach towards notions of progress and give equal importance to non-economic aspects of well-being” (

United Nations (UN) World Happiness Report

The United Nations (UN) World Happiness Report, which is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness, ranks 155 countries by their happiness levels. Likewise, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Better Life Index says, “There is more to life than the cold numbers of GDP and economic statistics. [Their] Index allows you to compare well-being across countries, based on 11 topics the OECD has identified as essential, in the areas of material living conditions and quality of life” (

EMG Optimum Happiness Index (HI) Project

EMG Optimum Happiness Index (OHI) Project ( puts forward that Happiness is much more valuable to human existence than people have contemplated thus far. The main book of the project “Discovering Your Optimum Happiness Index” (OHI) infers that happiness is a predicate of people’s achievements, attributes, and customs. It is not a temporary human condition underpinned by feelings and emotions, receipt of gifts, or events such as university graduation, birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries. EMG suggests Happiness Index (HI) measures such as these “TEN KEY HAPPINESS INDICATORS” (TKHI) listed below (alphabetically):


  1. Career (Achievement)
  2. Character (Attribute)
  3. Education (Achievement)
  4. Forgiveness (Attribute)
  5. Health (Achievement)
  6. Humility (Attitude)
  7. Personality (Attribute)
  8. Religion (Custom)
  9. Self-Esteem (Achievement)
  10. Socialization (Custom)

The “Ten Key Happiness Indicators” (TKHI), underpinned by the three entities Achievement, Attribute, and Custom, characterize people’s daily existence. Researchers have deployed other methods to measure the HI of nations, but EMGs OHI model seeks to understand better, happiness at the individual level, from the “bottom-up” as opposed to a “top-down” investigative perspective.


The EMG project recognizes that happiness is not merely about the individual, but the human family, intrinsically linked as a “community of influence.” The worldview of a person, community, or nation, can have a profound impact on national and international relations. An empathetic worldview can bring individuals into conformity (peace and happiness) with others—religions, races, and cultures—or in conflict with others. Parents and family members introduce the earliest lessons about worldview to their children. Likewise, within the leading institutions such as schools, colleges, universities, churches, temples, mosques, and synagogues help to shape the mind of future generations, as well.

Ministry and Minister of Happiness (MOH)

EMG recommends that every nation should install a Ministry and Minister of Happiness (MOH), to foster the advancement of national policy directives and the mutual progress of individuals from social, cultural, educational, intellectual, physical, and economic perspectives. The HI of nations will rise when leaders in the public and private sector establish HI criteria together with a National Happiness Awareness Program (NHAP). Moreover, leaders could conduct yearly “Happiness Audits” (HA) concurrent with regulatory quality audits of their policies and directives.

Observable, nations such as Norway, deemed the happiest place on Earth, according to a United Nations agency report – toppling neighbor Denmark from the number one position ( Likewise, one of the best examples of a government (the United Arab Emirates (UAE)) (, that is committed to becoming one of the happiest nations on Earth. The UAE’s commitment is evident by the profound statements by its leadership.

“Happiness and positivity are a lifestyle and government’s commitment and a true spirit that unites the Emirati community.” To have happiness and positivity as a lifestyle and the higher purpose of government work in the UAE.”

—H.H. SHEIKH MOHAMMED BIN RASHID AL MAKTOUM —UAE Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai

“Happiness is a journey focused on all segments of the UAE society, and the role of the government is to create an enabling environment to achieve this goal.”

—H.E. OHOOD AL ROUMI Minister of State for Happiness

Is there a crisis in global leadership?

A “crisis in global leadership” is evident by the complexity of political, social, and economic problems that modern thinkers refer to as “wicked problems.” Wicked problems are more than complicated—they are complex, difficult to define, and changing” (Grint, 2010; Heifer, 1994; Ritter & Webber, 1973). Wicked problems underpin great unhappiness in the world. The solutions to wicked problems demand an awakening to the need for a new frontier of leadership bolstered by happiness.

Whether people view the human species from the perspective of (1) religion, (2) science, or (3) observation, it affirms the intrinsic linkages among all humanity and of the oneness of humankind, endowed by their Creator with the same inalienable rights and privileges to pursue a happy and wholesome life. When researchers measure the Happiness Index (HI) of nations, they should highlight the commitment to good governance as essential to the happiness of nations.

What can people do to support their governments?

People can influence the path to national and international unhappiness when each one recognizes and accepts his or her responsibility for the sum of human suffering, though they may not be directly involved. People are responsible for all of the genocide, the wars, the hunger, the brutality in the world, and all of the unhappiness, and happiness by their spiritual, moral, social, economic, educational, intellectual, and physical connections.

People can begin with their attitude and gratitude for who they are, for the country and its leadership. No one chooses his or her parents, the geography of birth, or the environment of nurturing. Likewise, friends, husbands or wives, family, associates, employers, and employees are, inevitably, their inner circle, “for better or for worst.” With the right attitude, these relationships hold the key to people’s happiness.

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts. When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, [and] to love” ― Marcus Aurelius (121 AD–180 AD).

Gratitude is a term that encompasses a greater range of actions than people might contemplate such as appreciation, thankfulness, and gratefulness. These attributes of gratitude inspire people to perform acts that they might consider simple acts of kindness and courtesy, but they have far-reaching positive consequences for the betterment of human relations, well-being, and happiness.

The most significant source of happiness is to appreciate differences in people, places, cultures, religions, colors, genders, and things. Whether people are rich or poor or whether they have all that they desire does not guarantee a life free of adversity. They are an inevitable matter of existence that people should celebrate as the most beautiful inheritance for human survival.

Imagine the uninteresting and unhappy life that would prevail in a world where everything was the same, a world lacking in diversity. The great challenge that confronts the postmodern age is to invite all races, religions, cultures, and colors, and all social and economic classes to the “Table of Civilization” (TOC) in a mutual search for happiness — personal, community, national, and international.


In 2002, Errol Gibbs relinquished his technical career to research, study, and write about the betterment of humanity, enabled by spiritual, moral, social, intellectual, and physical growth and development. Errol hopes that this article will shed light on another path that will better inform the mutual survival of humankind as a viable species.


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