Kenyans are happier in 2023

Tuesday, March 21st, 2023 10:00 | By
Happy lady. PHOTO/Courtesy

Kenyans have high levels of happiness than their East African counterparts, according to World Happiness Report that also ranked the country at position 111 out of 137 countries. This was also an improvement from position 119 in 2022. Uganda was ranked at position 113, while Tanzania emerged position 129.

As the world marked International Happiness Day yesterday, it emerged that global happiness has not taken a hit in the three years of the Covid-19 pandemic. Life evaluations from 2020 to 2022 have been “remarkably resilient,” the report says, with global averages basically in line with the three years preceding the pandemic.

“Even during these difficult years, positive emotions have remained twice as prevalent as negative ones, and feelings of positive social support twice as strong as those of loneliness,” said John Helliwell, one of the authors of the World Happiness Report.

The report further revealed that people self-reported significantly higher levels of benevolence — acts of kindness — than before the pandemic. Benevolence is about 25 per cent higher than it was pre-pandemic. “Benevolence to others, especially helping of strangers, which went up dramatically in 2021, stayed high in 2022,” he added.

Social support The study found there was a ‘significant increase’ in the number of people reporting the happiness effect of ‘having someone to count on in times of trouble’. Globally, 80 per cent of survey respondents said they had someone to count on, which was one of the factors that boosted average life satisfaction during the pandemic years, analysts said.

Healthy life expectancy, GDP per capita, social support, low corruption, generosity in a community where people look after each other and freedom to make key life decisions, are the variable factors the researchers use in explaining variations in life evaluations across the countries surveyed.

However, though Kenya ranked up position-wise, their happiness score dipped at 4.487, compared to 4.543 in 2021 and 4.607 in 2020. The World Happiness Report, now in its 11th year, is based on people’s own assessment of their happiness, as well as economic and social data.

It assigns a happiness score on a scale of zero to 10, based on an average of data over a three-year period. This year, the authors also used data from social media to compare people’s emotions before and after the Covid crisis. Closer home, when asked whether he was truly happy, renowned film actor Gitura Kamau shared that he sure could be better.

“Happiness depends and is influenced by moments and circumstances and how they affect you positively or otherwise for a given measurable time. As for now, I’d say that I’m content. Things could be better, but I choose not to complain. As a Kenyan, I’m unhappy. I’ll give it a three out of 10. Where we value politics more than socio-economic development, mimi mwananchi wa kawaida (as an ordinary citizen) cannot thrive. Then how can I be happy if tonight I sleep hungry and there is no hope or promise for tomorrow?” posed the actor.

There are a lot more Kenyans equally feeling this heat. The economic and political situation is creating a lot of fears for the unknown. Asked to rate her happiness on a scale of 1 to 10, Laura Karani, said that it is impossible to say at the moment.

“It is hard to scale my happiness because I can’t say that I am either happy or sad. I choose to focus on the positives... all the negative things happening around is my ‘no’ notes. . Again, I think friendship has been important in say, making me happy, and at times some addictions, which I can afford of course... like shopping,” shared Laura.

What really makes people happy? According to research findings on the science of happiness, finding satisfaction and contentment is a continual process.

Positive psychology — the science of happiness and well-being — teaches us that there are five measurable elements that contribute to our overall happiness or well-being: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning or purpose, and accomplishments. According to Psychology Today, happiness incorporates curiosity, and the ability to tolerate risk and anxiety to discover new passions and facets of identity. It involves a balance between momentary pleasure and longer-term striving toward goals. It is abetted by friends and family who can both celebrate accomplishments and provide support after failures. Happiness includes the ability to acknowledge and embrace every emotion, even the unpleasant ones.

It involves seeing the big picture, rather than getting stuck in the details. Key to happiness The key to lifelong happiness is taking time to cultivate small tweaks on a regular basis.

Incorporating habits into your daily life such as keeping a gratitude journal, practicing kindness, nurturing optimism, learning to forgive, investing in relationships, finding flow activities, avoiding overthinking, savouring life’s joys, and committing to goals can make happiness a permanent fixture. In line with this year’s theme: Make it a Point to be Social, people are being encouraged to reinvest in their social lives.

“People often want to avoid difficult emotions, so they reach for quick fixes such as tasty treats or luxurious purchases. Those indulgences provide happiness, but only momentarily. Yet pinning all hopes of happiness on milestones such as getting married, gaining fame, or becoming wealthy is also misleading.

“Lasting happiness occurs when we invest in meaningful goals, relationships, and values and develop skills to overcome distress. So, for those get-togethers that you have been putting off, it’s time to revive them. Have fun with the people you love and release that stress. There is a lot going on, yes, but you can’t get swept along with it,” advises psychologist Ruth Jebet. While not everyone is born happy, some people are naturally more optimistic, positive, and content. Although genetics is, in fact, a key determinant of happiness, people who gravitate toward pessimism ar

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