So the BBC website today reports that Austraila is the world's happiest nation among developed economies. This is an award Australia has won for the third year running and having never been to Australia it is one which I cannot argue with (although I am confident they will be a little less happy after this year's back to back ashes!!!)
However, the obvious question I had when I read this was how did they decide this? Did they simply poll everyone or a sample and ask them how happy they were? What exactly did they do? Well here is the description of the survey
'The survey ranked more than 30 countries on criteria such as income levels, health, safety and housing.'
Now I'm not doubting that income levels, health, safety and housing are very important. However, simply because a nation comes out on top of these areas does that necessarily mean that they are the happiest?
You see this is what our culture believes and therefore our culture says it as if it is fact. Of course if you are wealthier and healthier you are going to be happier. This is so much the air that we breathe that it is just stated as fact that because Australia are the top performers in these areas they must be the happiest nation. However, I would question the reality of this statement.
We believe this so intently that we make ourselves unhappy in our pursuit of health and wealth believing that it's the next step up in these areas which will make us happy never even considering that the problem is that these things cannot ultimately deliver what we need them to. The Bible repeatedly states that we were built to find our joy in relationships. Relationship with the God who made us and the people he created.
Australia may well be the the best when judged against those criteria, they may even be the happiest but the fact that the former brings the latter seems to me at the very least open to debate.