Gaurav Joshi
What About A Beer?

How Israel reaches the top of the world happiness report every year

Celebrating life in Israel. (Yehoshua Yosef/ Flash90)
Celebrating life in Israel. (Yehoshua Yosef/ Flash90)

Hundreds of Israelis fly away from the nation for more than one reason every year. For a long time, I used to believe that they are escaping a problematic nation, seeking a better lifestyle. Israel, for me, was more like a war zone, reverberating with the thunder of bomb explosions all the time. If not that, my imagination always took me to some land where the price of survival exceeds people’s incomes. It was hard for me to picture children of Israel with high-end video games, and jet-fast finger-speed.

 It’s the lack of opportunity to visit Israel for real, and my ignorant mind that has been sculpting these unrealistic thoughts in my mind (and perhaps, in yours too).  

Here’s a piece of information that would smash the wall of your misconceptions down — Israel hits the 12th spot in the World Happiness Report (2021). It has been among the top-ranking countries on this list for the last many years. So, it means that people who fly away to other countries are technically moving to a less happy nation. Doesn’t it sound strange to you?

Well, it shouldn’t. It’s time that we see Israel in a new light. Unlike how the news channels paint it, life in Israel is actually very jolly and beautiful. I understand why the interpretation of Israel being unhappy forms in people’s mind. The other countries on the list, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland and some more have their reasons to be happy. They are secure, affluent and hardly witness wars. They do have their setbacks, but none can compare to the conflicts and turmoil that Israel witnesses every day.

So, how is this nation still so happy?

The World Happiness Report finds its base in the Gallup World Poll. It measures and analyzes 14 key areas regarding the quality of life in every country around the world. Some are objective, while others are subjective and complex. The latter bases on observations and indexes of Social Sciences and Questionnaires attempted by sample groups. The six variables of measurement include healthy life expectancy, income, social support, trust, freedom and generosity.

When you get the scores every year and find Israel among the happiest nation, it isn’t an accident in any way. The World Happiness Record doesn’t base itself on the number of brawls and battles a nation witnesses every year. Neither on how expensive goods are. The record looks for the nation that blooms despite everything. It looks for the ability of a nation to provide its people with economic security, proper medical facilities, a feeling of freedom, a sense of belonging to a group, trust and healthy long life.

There are several debates about whether or not these factors actually describe happiness. The UN Happiness Report believes so, and I second that.

Livelihood in Israel is expensive, there’s a large gap between social groups and a constant disagreement on how the resource pie must be distributed. Despite everything, Israel has a balanced and stable economy. A large section of the society is benefitted from economic prosperity. Even though health-system bags criticism sometimes, medical facilities are rather inexpensive in Israel. It is interesting to know that Israel funds fertility treatments, standing as the only country to do so. It marks as a breath of fresh air, unlike other nation where medical facilities are no less than highway robbery.

When a survey was conducted in Israel, the people (excluding Palestinian terrorists) reported that they didn’t feel any major impairment in their freedom living in the country. 

Also, the social support index in Israel is pretty high. Families in Israel are more buoyant than the rest of the world. The rate of disintegration in the institution of family in Israel is also very less than the number in Europe and the U.S. It might be because of the strong geographical and emotional connection between parents and their children (extended to grandparents) in Israelites – in all age groups. A general identification with the society also exists in the hearts of the Israeli people.

Believe it or not, it is the constant wars that make the bonds between them stronger. Coming together to deal with a situation (a common enemy) evolves a feeling of unity among the Israelis. They feel connected which gives way to a certain level of satisfaction. This, in the long run, counts for happiness.

When it comes to income, Israel has been known to have struggled even for sustaining daily life comfortably. However, low income cannot be equated with happiness. The Easterlin paradox shows that at a particular time richer individuals in the U.S. were happier than the poorer ones. But the society did not get any happier as it grew more prosperous. In his own words, “While higher income may raise happiness to some extent, the quest for higher-income may actually reduce one’s happiness. In other words, it may be nice to have more money but not so nice to crave it.”

According to Richard Layard (One of the editor-in-chief of the report), happiness is a balance. Israel is a comparatively poor country, but when it comes to the people, they are satisfied with what they have. They have a lesser urge to become any richer as the people of Europe and the U.S. have. Also, the balance is about having more positive feelings than negative feelings. Israelites have found a strange equilibrium in their feelings and expression of emotions. Despite all the differences and struggles, it is a sense of unity and belongingness that excels the basket of negative feelings.

The World Happiness Report is a brand new pair of glasses for the world to see that Israel not as we imagine it to be. Actually, Israel is a good place to live (as Layard states) and it provides enough opportunities to its citizens to be content. They have a strong community life, a happy family bond, and love and respect for one another. Adversities bring people closer. The statement stands perfect for Israelites.

About the Author
Gaurav is from India and works as an owner of a small company: Smithk Solutions.
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