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Happiness is relative

Mar 20,2018 - Last updated at Mar 20,2018

The World Happiness Report 2018 ranked Jordan as the 90th happiest country in the world. The report was published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and is supposed to be objective, based on several indicators, including income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support and generosity, for whatever these variables mean.

How these criteria have been arrived at, tested and measured need to be more closely examined. The judgements formulated and arrived at based on imprecise factors become all the more dubious and suspicious when the report puts Jordan behind Libya, a war-torn country, and trails Jordan by regional countries, including Somalia, Palestine, Tunisia, Iraq and Egypt.

Happiness is a lot more complex issue than the report purports it to be. While it is true that Jordanians are experiencing a high unemployment rate and are heavily taxed, making Jordan among the region’s most expensive countries, yet, such factors should not place Jordanians among the least happy people in the Arab world.

Jordan is no Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland or Switzerland, yet, in all honesty and fairness and by all reasonable counts, Jordanians are, in fact, among the happiest nations in the Arab world.

Security and stability are the prime reasons for the "happiness" of Jordanians, while social support due to strong family relations still stands out as among the main features of the Jordanian society. Jordanians continue to enjoy strong inter-family bonds, even when there are socio-economic hardships facing them. Freedom and democracy in Jordan are by far ahead of their status in many other nations and healthy life expectancy is not in short supply in the country.

The judgement of the report must, therefore, be taken with a grain of salt as it does no tally with facts or data. Besides, happiness is relative and cannot be only measured by the criteria picked by the report.

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