Hi to all the epicurean friends ,
To a Greek website called as "psychology now. gr" I found an interesting article that I translated into english.
Since 2012 Nordic countries have been ranked steadily as the happiest countries in the world, and there are not just a few times when other countries are often look to them for guidance when it comes to nurturing the well-being of their people. But are the Scandinavians the happier people indeed?
A recent study overturns what we have known till today, since, according to its conclusions, people who are living in southern European regions have higher mental well-being than those living in the North.
According to the “Conversation” report, the researchers used a ladder that measures the degree to which a person felt good and worked well in the last two weeks. "Good" can mean a sense of relaxation, optimism, or energy, and "worked well" may mean that someone was able to think clearly, face problems and socialized.
They have recently applied the scale in Denmark and compared the national mental well-being estimates of Danish people with people living in Iceland, Spain (Catalonia) and England. What they found out was that people in Spain (Catalonia) scored considerably higher on mental well-being than people in three northern European countries mentioned as above - challenging the prevailing idea that people living in northern Europe are typically more happy than those in southern Europe.
In the World Happiness Reports, which tend to show the Nordic countries as leading, happiness is measured using Cantril's ladder of life evaluation. This asks people to rate how they currently view their life on a ladder in which zero is the "worst possible life for you" and the ten is "the best life for you". However, such measures are strongly influenced by economic conditions and are poor proxies for mental health and well-being.
Research has shown that while life evaluation rises proportionately with income, emotional well-being - measured by an individual’s experience of pleasant and unpleasant emotions – rises with income only to a certain point. If people are below a certain economic threshold, they are more likely to be emotionally unwell and have low life evaluations. Above this threshold, life evaluations continue to improve, but ratings of emotional well-being ratings do not.
In other words, high income may buy better life evaluations, but this is not the same as positive mental health and well-being. A recent report also showed that inequalities in life evaluation appear to be rising in several places in Scandinavia, and that a significant number of people in Nordic countries appear to be struggling, contrary to what these countries are famous for.
This is how it turns out that "happiest place in the world" label may therefore be misleading given its rather simplistic focus on life evaluation. As the research that overturns the data shows, using more sophisticated measures of well-being can tell a different story.
So far, the conventional approach to mental health in Europe focuses on the treatment and prevention of mental illness, as well as on the efforts of disintegration. Although these are valid, they are reactive and focus on risk factors for poor mental health rather than on HOW to promote and maintain mental health and well-being. This approach does not account for the fact that mental health is more than just the absence of a mental illness. Health is something positive. The absence of pessimism does not automatically produce optimism, the absence of sadness does not automatically produce joy. And that's how the entire spectrum of human thoughts and emotions works.
[[My note : This research proves also how false is that motto we're hearing all the time :“pleasure is the absence of pain or the absence of pain is pleasure]].
Positive mental health and well-being is associated with better physical health, positive interpersonal relationships and socially healthier societies. Positive mental health and well-being is, therefore, desirable in its own right and may further help prevent common mental health problems occurring in the first place and help people during recovery from mental illness.
So what can make a whole people happy? Encouraging active lifestyles, providing people with opportunities to interact and feel that they belong within a community or fostering a sense of purpose. It can also include efforts that focus on the individual, such as encouraging self-care and opportunities for the practice of personal and social skills, as well as pursuing creative endeavors. The combination of universal and individual approaches has proved important in many different settings.
There is still plenty to learn about positive mental health and how to promote it, and the results suggest people should not only look the road leading to the Nordic countries for a guidance.
If we ask the right questions, we will be able to get the right answers. And while our bad mental health can make our lives unbearable, our good psychology definitely makes our life worth living!