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International day of happiness

What is happiness? There is no exact answer to the question. But there is a scientific approach to this rather abstract, at first glance, concept. Since 1947, sociologists have measured the index of happiness in various countries around the world. The number of countries participating in the study is constantly increasing. But the questions haven't changed much in half a century.

Andrey Milekhin, Doctor of Social Sciences, Candidate of Psychological Sciences: "Happiness is based on optimism. And the wording of the question... There are several of them, but the essence of these questions is this: "Will you or your children live better next year than you do today?" And this social optimism, this vision of the future is the core of what we can describe as happiness."

Of course, our happiness is influenced by other factors: health, family, self-fulfilment, security ... Different people have different priorities. For the study, sociologists make a sample of several thousand participants in each country. Both men and women, representatives of different ages and social groups, people with different incomes are among them. This is called the "principle of representativeness".

Andrey Milekhin, Doctor of Social Sciences, Candidate of Psychological Sciences: "Gallup described the principle of representativeness greatly. He said: "You don't have to eat a whole pot to understand the taste of soup. It is enough to stir well and try a spoon of it." This stirring procedure is a procedure of representative, and the spoon is a sample of people who due to their structure have the ability to transfer their opinions to the opinions of citizens of Russia, for example."

In 2019, fifteen hundred Russians took part in the study. We were in 28th place in a single list of 103 countries. In Russia, 42% of respondents consider themselves happy. Our index of happiness has returned to the level that was seven years ago. For the first time since 2013, scientists have recorded such a sharp downfall.

Olga Kuzina, PhD in Economics, Doctor of Sociology, Professor of the Department of Economic Sociology of the NRU HSE Department of Sociology: "Real incomes are falling, this, of course, contributes to the negative. If people's income levels decrease, then the levels of their happiness are likely to decrease. Although happiness is related to income, but not so closely. Because there is such a thing as the Easterlin Paradox, which says that after reaching a certain level of income, further increases in happiness are not observed when incomes reache a certain level. Well, they have not reached this level in our country, so they could continue to grow."

There are two main factors that affect happiness. The first is justice (that is, the certainty that you live as well as others). This, by the way, is the secret of African happiness: many countries have a low standard of living on the hot continent, and the index of happiness is not lower than that in Europe. Africans compare themselves with their nearest neighbors and realize that they live just not bad. Plus, the second factor, dynamics, is actively working in Africa: it is important for a person to live not just well, but BETTER than yesterday.

Alexander Tkhostov, Doctor of Psychological Sciences, Professor: "If I have hope for the future, and it is clear – I can easily live through today's failure. And if there is no such prospect – it is harder for me. There is no clear and understandable perspective, that is, what we will actually do, what our plan is. Not just me as a specific person, everyone has it, but what about all of us? Do we have a common plan?"

As soon as people lose confidence in tomorrow, stop feeling justice and notice a pronounced stratification of society, optimism immediately decreases and the index of happiness falls down. In addition, we consider ourselves a superpower. That is why we compare our standard of living with large and strong countries. Hence the fluctuations in the index occur. But sociologists say that for all the time of measurement, Russians did not fall into deep pessimism. We are always somewhere in the middle of the list. And the happiest people now live in Colombia, Indonesia and Ecuador. Maybe they know what happiness is.

Alexander Tkhostov, Doctor of Psychological Sciences, Professor: "This is a subjective state of a person that cannot be explained in one word, but everyone knows. Do you understand? That is, if you are happy, you know exactly that it is so. If you are unhappy – you also know it for sure. But when you try to explain, you cannot do it."

The International Day of Happiness is celebrated on March 20. In honor of the holiday, we decided to distract from the facts and figures and go to the "pink dreamworld".

Olga Bubnova, a reporter: "As philosophers say, happiness is an ephemeral concept, which means it is unstable. Residents of large cities are especially unlucky: according to statistics, people in the megalopolis are much more likely to have mental disorders and depression. You know, it's has nothing to do with happiness. But even in big cities, there are places where you can hide from all problems and feel absolutely happy for at least an hour."

In Moscow, the Sweet Museum offers to become a little happier. It is not easy to find any unhappy visitor among those bright decorations.

Olga Bubnova, a reporter: "Tell me, do you feel like a happy person?"

Alina, a visitor of the Sweet Museum: "Yes!"

Olga Bubnova, a reporter: "What makes you feel happy?"

Alina, a visitor of the Sweet Museum: "Love, health of relatives..."

Lyudmila, a visitor of the Sweet Museum: "My life is so well that I am happy!"

Olga Bubnova, a reporter: "What factors do you think influence this feeling of happiness?"

Lyudmila, a visitor of the Sweet Museum: "This is inner harmony"

Yulia, a visitor of the Sweet Museum: "You need to be glad and happy inside. That is, initially look at the world in a positive way."

Olga Bubnova, a reporter: "Thank you! I wish you great happiness!"

Yulia, a visitor of the Sweet Museum: "Thank you! And you!"

Olga Bubnova, Dmitry Golovko, Alexander Ermolayev and Kirill Palmovsky, TV BRICS.