A measure of happiness

Is it ever possible to get a measure of happiness? Most of us would argue happiness is not a quantifiable entity.

Life in a foreign land, away from one’s roots, comes with its unique set of pros and cons. The ramifications of geographical, cultural, social and climatic changes on the psychology of an individual and his/her family depend on the degree of change as well as the individual’s attitude towards such change. Such situations test individuals’ coping skills; their ability to adjust and acclimatize. The new and novel can be enticing for some and extremely petrifying experience for others. Personal circumstances, life style changes, changes in living comfort, personal security etc all leave disparate footprints on people and they respond distinctly to any alterations in their circumstances. If there is general well-being, fairly normal and non-restrictive conditions in the external environment of the new place of living – expatriate slowly begin to adjust and get acquainted with the new way of life and most being to like the place and people they live in. They develop circles or pockets for socializing and for satisfactions of their interests and goals. They seek out and replicate similar patterns of social satisfaction as in their home countries. Hence they become formal and informal members of different groups based on their ethnicity, similar interest, aspirations and mentality. At times they may even develop new interest and goals due to their new experience and exposure and thus form completely new groups. The vital factor for liking a place of living is the positive emotional/psychological well- being/happiness one derives in their immediate surroundings.



In most instances, people venture to new places in order to explore chances for better economic gains.  However, ultimately they find out that money alone cannot bring them happiness. Of course, at the macro level, the GDP of a country is indicative of its economic health.  However, from the micro perspective, it is the emotional well-being of the residents that is far more crucial. In this instance GNH or “gross national happiness” (a term coined by Bhutan’s 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 972) becomes very relevant. Gross national happiness refers to the holistic well-being of the general population and its major indicators in the first global GNH survey were: economic wellness, social wellness, political wellness (good governance), work place wellness, environmental wellness (sustainable development), mental wellness and physical Wellness. Unlike the GDP, the GNH is not easily quantifiable, but its fundamental indicators can be subject to quantitative dimensions. Measuring the health of a country based solely on objective material factors like consumption and production, disregarding the “happiness economist” or the human entity cannot be considered realistic. It is a logical deduction that the GDP of any country becomes more attainable when the GNH index climbs up. More focus on GNH is vital for the survival and sustenance of life and future.


Recently, a social study survey conducted by the CDA (Community Development Authority) stated that the Dubai residents accounted an average happiness quotient of 7.9 on a scale of 0-10. The survey sample included Emirates, expatriates and also people from labor communities. The parameters on which satisfaction levels was judged were: Civil rights, social cohesion, social services and requirements, empowerment, participation, personal values and opinions, and national identity. The survey reports that majority of the residents felt Dubai provides financial stability and protected their human rights. They felt protected and safe by the law of the land, enjoyed good work environment and were not discriminated. The fact that the average happiness quotient is 7.9 and not 10 implies there are still some concerns in various areas. However, the overall quotient is a good indicator that people in Dubai are basically happy.


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