Who is hap­pier, men or women? And find out how we can all smile more!

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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


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