With election season a few seasons away, we wanted to look at data related to government and happiness. We also wanted to reflect on ways to safeguard – or even improve – happiness once election season is in full swing.
We looked at data from 5870 people who elected to that the Happiness Index between January and August in 2019.
We separated them by their response to the question, Overall how satisfied are you with your life these days.
100 means completely satisfied. 0 means completely unsatisfied. 50 means neither satisfied nor unsatisfied.
It is not a surprise that people with higher life satisfaction have a higher level in trust in national government than people with lower life satisfaction.
After-all, people with higher life satisfaction may have many advantages, from a predisposition for happiness (i.e. their genetic set-point) to other advantages like higher incomes, education and steady employment,
That is all kind of obvious.
What can the data tell us that we can do something about?
Building trust makes you happier.
Note that the average trust in government, when we do not count the 192 who are completely satisfied with their life (100) is only 30 out of 100 (and only 32 when you do include them),
In other words, across the boards, there is not much trust in national government.
What about local government?
We looked at trust in local government.
What are the differences for people who are highly satisfied in live versus people who are not satisfied.
While there is a pretty large spread – 33 % – the average is only 40 out of 100. Meaning overall, people are on the side of not trusting over trusting in local government.
There is a relationship between trust in government and satisfaction with life, and more importantly, governments can make a difference.
What governments can do:
Engage people in policy decision making.
Ensure the conditions for control over life decisions.
Promote creativity in life decisions.
Invest in education.
What you can do:
Participate in cultural activities in your area.
Get involved in local groups.
Take action to help someone in your life who is suffering from health inequalities
Do you trust your neighbor?
Would you feel comfortable giving them your key or could you ask them to watch over your place when you are on vacation?
It turns out our trust in our neighbors is not that much better than our trust in government.
Surprisingly, we trust local businesses a little bit more than our neighbors, but not that much more.
On average we trust our neighbors at about 35/100 and our local businesses at 44/100. (100 means we have absolute trust. Zero means we have no trust.)
In other words..
We do not really trust our neighbors, local businesses, local government or national government much.
Is there hope?
Trust increases happiness.
We can increase our trust by our decisions & actions (both).
What you can do:
Learn about and develop tolerance.
Take action to overcome income inequalities among the people in your life.
Take action to help someone in your life who is suffering from health inequalities.
Back to politics —
What about trust in government and the impending political season?
Synthesizing what science and common sense have to say about happiness and politics…
Get active in your neighborhood.
Take a class or participate in an event at your local community center or gathering place.
Take walks and when the opportunity arises, talk to your neighbors.
Get to know the people who live next door.
Don’t give up if one way does not work! Keep trying.
Get to know a neighbor.
Smile when you see your neighbor.
Bake a neighbor cookies or give them a small gift of seasonal fruit, with a card that says hello! I am your neighbor or something like that.
Invite a neighbor for coffee or tea.
If you are rebuffed, reach out to someone else.
Always stay safe and respectful! Slowly we build trust, and with it our happiness.