International Day of Happiness

Today is the International Day of Happiness, and as Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said, “The pursuit of happiness lies at the core of human endeavors. People around the world aspire to lead happy and fulfilling lives free from fear and want.” How can people lead these “happy and fulfilling lives”? Is it through greater gender equality, protection of forests and rivers, or a better education? All of the priorities can be seen as vehicles to bring greater happiness to people’s lives, and that is why the completion of the MDGs and the success of the SDGs are so important.

Did you know that people completing the MY World survey can also fill in their own seventeenth option for their top priorities? You can actually search to see what people filled in and how their responses compare to the overall average here! Top options that were self-entered include “health,” “animal,” “AIDS,” “child labour,” and “family.” We searched in our database for terms such as “happy,” “happiness,” “joy,” and “love,” to see what the results were:

Happy results

What are some differences you notice? By looking at the differences in the sizes of the colored circles from top to bottom, you can quickly compare what the votes were for different phrases. “A good education” was a top priority for all, and we know this because the blue circles representing “A good education” are all consistently the largest circles in the row and of similar sizes down the column.

On the right side, we see magenta for “Better job opportunities.” Interestingly, if you put the phrase “love,” then you are more likely to prioritize better job opportunities. Next to “Better job opportunities” is “Equality between men and women,” where we can see that people who selected “happiness” tended to select “Equality between men and women” below average but people who selected “happy” tented to select it above average.

Looking across the “joy” circles, we can see that those people tended to prioritize “Action taken on climate change” higher than other respondents. People who put in “happy” tended to select “Phone and internet access” more often than the average respondent.

What other patterns do you see? Head to the tool to type in any search term you can think of. Some fun suggestions are: “cars,” a type of pet, “girls,” “peace,” “citizenship.” Do you see any changes above or below average that surprises you or that you expected? Share them with us on social media via Twitter at @myworld2015 and use the hashtagh #HappyDay to let us know what you found!