Who is happier, men or women? And find out how we can all smile more!
When it comes to being upbeat, the UAE are certainly smiling. The latest UN-commissioned World Happiness Report ranks the UAE at the 14th happiest country in the world – flying high above Britain and the US and confirming us as the happiest Arab country on the planet.
Factors they considered included the overall wealth and healthcare available in a country, but also the mood created by life expectancy, earnings, having someone to count on and the freedom to make life choices. It concluded that the world overall had become a ‘slightly happier and more generous place’.
It’s good news for everyone here but the age-old question remains – which gender are the happiest, men or women?
The biggest global happiness survey was done back in 2008 by the marketing and information firm Nielsen. They discovered that in 48 of 51 countries women were the happiest. The survey concluded that men found happiness with wealth, while women sought it from friendships and relationships with partners, family, friends and co-workers.
“Because they are happier with non-economic factors, women’s happiness is more recession-proof, which might explain why women around the world are happier in general than men,” said Bruce Paul, Nielsen Vice President of Consumer Research when the findings were released. But Andy Cope, co-author of
Be Brilliant Everyday, who is doing a doctorate in the science of positivity, which will officially make him a Doctor of Happiness, says that men score higher on the ‘happyometer’ than women. “Men and women are wired differently and I think it’s safe to say that women have more complicated circuitry than men!” he says.
“It won’t come as a massive surprise to tell you women are more nurturing and can squeeze more happiness from relationships. But men’s brains are more compartmentalised and they have a fabulous ability to think of nothing. If a woman asks her partner what he’s thinking and he says ‘nothing’ it’s probably true!”
So, while women are worrying and over-analysing things, men are busy getting on with being happy.
But what exactly is that? “It’s really difficult to define happiness,” says Andy. “It’s a feeling but it runs from a spectrum of ‘calm contentment’ at one end, to ‘zany euphoria’ at the other. Most people are somewhere in the middle and human beings are best summed up as being ‘mildly happy most of the time’.”
But he warns it’s a fragile state of mind. “Happiness can be fleeting. It doesn’t take much to knock you off your happiness perch. And in fact the manic pace of modern life can inhibit happiness. A lot of people end up living life fast but not particularly well.”
According to Andy, happiness is 50 per cent genetic. “Look at your parents and grandparents,” he says. “If they’re happy and upbeat, you’ve got a better chance of being the same. About 10 per cent of your happiness is to do with circumstances, such as your job, house and standard of living – which isn’t as much as you might think.” Andy says that leaves about 40 per cent