Poll honors countries that, ‘Don’t worry, be happy’

The 2024 Gallup World Happiness Poll came out last week. The poll rates the happiness of 143 countries throughout the world. At least 1,000 respondents from each country were asked to rate how happy they were with their current life on a scale of 1 to 10, with one being very unhappy and 10 being very happy. Those responses are then averaged over the three-year polling period, and the results tabulated.

It may not surprise you to learn that the three happiest countries are the same three that were the happiest from the previous one in 2021 – Finland, Denmark and Iceland. Finland led all countries tries with a happiness rating of 7.7. Every Scandinavian country scored a 7.3 or better. Not bad for a bunch of left-wing, bicycle-riding, socialist lutefisk eaters, eh?

If the people of Scandinavia are the happiest people on earth, who are the least happiest? That would be Afghanistan with a 1.7 rating. Lebanon, with a 2.7 rating, and Lesotho, with a 3.2 rating, took the silver and bronze unhappy medals. It should be noted that Palestine was rated only the 102nd least happy country. But the polling was collected prior to the events of Oct. 7. One must assume Palestine would finish below Afghanistan if the poll numbers were updated today, giving the people in Gaza a victory in a race that no one wants to win.

The happiest country in North America is our perky northern neighbor Canada with a 6.9 rating. The least happy country in North America is the Dominican Republic at 5.8. The happiest and least happy countries in South America are Uruguay at 6.6 and Venezuela at 5.6. The least happy European country is, not surprisingly, Ukraine with at 4.9 index, a rating that is no doubt falling as it waits to see if the United States is going to abandon them in their war against Russia.

In Africa, Libya was the happiest country at 5.9. All but one of the 10 most unhappy countries in the world are in Africa.

The happiest country in the Middle East is Israel – again with a large asterisk because the data was all collected before Oct. 7. In East Asia the happiest country is Singapore at 6.5 and the least happy is Bangladesh at 4.1. Evidently, everyone in Oceania is pretty happy as both Australia and New Zealand weighed in with scores between 7.0 and 7.1, proving that beer and kangaroos beat war and famine every time.

Two countries broke into the Top 20 for the first time since polling began – Costa Rica and Kuwait. Perhaps even more surprising, two countries dropped out of the Top 20 for the first time – the United States and Germany. Interestingly enough, in the United States, with a happiness rating of 6.7, it turns out that older poll respondents reported being significantly happier than younger respondents. I don’t know what to make of that phenomenon. It’s been pretty well-established that easy and prolonged access to social media makes us dumber. Perhaps it’s also true that such exposure makes us less happy. Or maybe we Americans should have been less happy than we thought we were all along, and we just didn’t know it until it was explained by Fox News and former President Trump just what a God-forsaken hell-hole our country has become.

In case you’re wondering, here are the 2024 Happiness ratings of some other countries that have been in the news lately: Iran at 4.9, Iraq at 5.2, Russia at 5.8, China at 6.0 and Taiwan at 6.5, which may explain why the Chinese have their eye on taking over Taiwan – maybe they believe annexing Taiwan will boost China’s overall rating in the next poll in 2027.

Ireland and Scotland, my second- and third-favorite countries, are holding down 17th and 20th place in the poll with solid ratings of 6.8 and 6.7. As a serious and conscientious journalist, I feel compelled to make a serious, conscientious and tax-deductible fact-finding trip to Scotland later this year to confirm the state of happiness there. No need to thank me for my sacrifice in the pursuit of happiness.

Tom Tyner of Bainbridge Island writes a weekly humor column for this newspaper.