By Jim Poling Sr.
Many Canadians are. We just placed 15th on the latest United Nations’ World Happiness Index. That’s down from eighth three years ago.
Well, cheer up. You can take a course to get happy.
There’s an online course titled The Science of Well-Being and is adapted from the Yale University course Psychology and the Good Life. It is touted as one of the most popular courses offered by Yale in its 320-year history.
I’ve never taken any of the many happiness courses out there. In fact, I wonder why anyone would spend time and money on learning to be happy? Wouldn’t the energy be best spent on finding what makes us not happy in the first place?
The daily news provides insights into reasons for unhappiness.
COVID-19 obviously is a major reason for much unhappiness. It has most of us worried (if not downright panicked) about catching the virus. With good reason – 123 million cases worldwide and 2.7 million deaths.
Then there are all the terrible side effects: business losses, unemployment, lost education opportunities, increased crime and mental illness and many others.
Plus, worry about the future. How will we recover from COVID-19’s economic disasters? How will our kids’ education change? How will future work change? Are more viruses coming and will they be worse than this one? Will we be as unprepared as we were for this one?
On top of all that, climate change news is causing unhappiness about the future. More people (except the “fake news” numbskulls) are realizing that changes in the world’s climate are a genuine threat to civilization as we have known it.
Arctic ice is disappearing, oceans are rising, wind patterns are changing. Temperatures are warming, notably in the Canadian north.
Climate change is tied to human abuse of our planet. The abuse is not just with carbon dioxide emissions and industrial pollution. A walk along springtime roadsides littered with bottles, cans, coffee cups tells a story of human lack of respect for nature.
Climate change threatens massive upheaval in the world population. Where do people go if coastal cities become uninhabitable because of rising oceans? How will warmer temperatures affect agriculture and the millions of people who depend on it?
Also, our capitalist system is creating little sustained happiness. It probably is the best system for us but has gone out of control and needs reforming.
We rely on our governments to make reforms by tackling issues that create unhappy citizens. Governments, however, have become more intrusive, more confused and yet less effective. The pandemic has magnified and brought government ineffectiveness into clearer focus.
Few governments have the dynamic, clear-eyed leadership needed to deal effectively with today’s serious challenges and those of the future.
Government leadership is overwhelmed, trying to please many factions instead of being decisive and hitting problems head on. Our leaders place more emphasis on partisan politics than on getting the work done.
We need leaders like the young private sector executives who are building new companies with out-of-the-box thinking not shackled by political thinking.
We don’t have that type of leadership in our federal or provincial governments.
Federally we have a prime minister who is a nice young man who talks softly and at length without ever saying anything. The Conservative opposition leader can’t get his own party to say what it stands for and the New Democrats … do they still have a leader or is he simply invisible?
We need leaders – I don’t care what they label themselves politically – who build solutions without worrying about personal and party re-election.
We don’t need courses to show us how to be happy. Maybe the reason for our unhappiness is knowing that as individuals we could be doing more to help overcome these problems and we aren’t. We are too wrapped up in our individual lives.
Our best chance for increasing happiness lies in becoming better informed about the issues and getting involved with the efforts for change. A big part of that is finding, promoting and electing innovative leaders with the talents and skills to make all our lives better.
Happiness is created. To create more of it, we all need to get more informed, more involved and more creative.