Somehow, I missed the World Happiness Report for 2020, published earlier in 2021, and only came upon it from a story in which the algorithms “thought” I may have an interest.
And so there was I, happily looking to see how T&T ranked only to discover after scrolling through the list three times that there were no rankings for us out of the 143 countries listed.
We are supposed to be the happiest people around these parts but alas, all I could find close to me and to any understanding of the cultural underpinnings about Caribbean people’s happiness was Jamaica coming in at a brilliant 37.
Where did our happiness go in 2020? In fact, why are we measuring happiness at all in the middle of a pandemic (asked the somewhat bitterly disappointed Trini)?
A quick survey of the (stale) news and my spirits were lifted by the Philadelphia Tribune reporting.
They wrote in April 2021, “Key Caribe online news indicated that in 2019 Trinidad and Tobago ranked 39th, which made T&T the happiest Caribbean country that year.
“This was not a surprise. They always seem so happy in news broadcasts, parading in flamboyant costumes and dancing in the streets during their local celebrations.
“They are one of the richest Caribbean countries. Even with the on-going pandemic, T&T is one of the few Caribbean countries producing oil, which along with tourism has helped keep their economy going over the past few years.” https://www.phillytrib.com/happiness-report-islands-have-good-showing-on-happiness-report/article_41434dcf-876b-556d-a8a9-4fb04dcdaaca.html)
Good enough for me. I am not about to edit anything they wrote!
Thank you Philly for doing what you do best: showing love to my people and an appreciation for our joie de vivre.
The thing I know about true measures of happiness really has nothing to do with the Cantril Ladder of Life Satisfaction scale which asks people to give a rating of their life and their “happy.” Then, the researchers use these obscure rankings from 1 to 10 to determine the happiness levels of the citizenry/country.
Happiness, though, is an individual, inside job. I am so grateful to be alive and can experience happiness in my innermost place, which pleasure had been blurred for decades by unwholesome definitions and expectations.
I gave up a lot of things, relationships, and interactions in order to quiet my spirit, and though living with a mood disorder that can significantly impact my joy, I have learned that I am not my illness and the missing joy on the days of melancholy moods is not an antithesis of my happiness.
My happiness feels more like a permanent state; it appears like a rest at the end of a journey, the kind of solace you get when you have reached your final destination. If I were to describe it I would probably say it feels like contentment but the truth is that I learned in the past decade or two that in my happiness I still experience periods of discontent.
Happiness helps a person to measure their life and their life’s circumstances differently. It is recognised in sometimes simply in moments like last weekend when someone pointed out to me that I did not own a house in which I could live—a sad fact because I had been pursuing the idea for a few decades with not much success.
But from bowels of happiness I responded: “But I have never not have shelter. I once had no bed but that lasted only one month.”
And that’s how happy sees things: from a point of gratitude, counting the blessings of the situation even while in full view of the disadvantage or difficulty.
After that, I kept thinking about the good fortune I have had of never being homeless or having had to sleep on the street. [I recall as I write sleeping in Heathrow Airport, London, for a few nights when I could not get a flight as a standby passenger some years ago; that was an educational experience and my closest occasion to destitution].
There is a tool available as well to measure an individual’s happiness quotient. Still, according to the pundits, finding happiness starts with one’s emotions and is very dependent on the individual’s effort and environment.
For me, happiness is a decision I have to make regularly, with conscious effort to be and remain self-aware, with a firm grasp on optimism, focusing only on the things I can control or influence.
It takes determination to keep that centre, but lessening the “noise” in my life and taking interactions down to the necessary minimum allows me the head space to carve out my happy cosmos.
What about you? How are you planning to take responsibility for your happiness?