「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Don't worry, be happy

By Anthony Fensom


Bobby McFerrin's hit song Don't Worry, Be Happy was released in 1988, when Japan was nearing the peak of its economic bubble. At the time, it was said the streets of Tokyo were paved with gold, and Japan was going to be the world's No. 1 economy. No doubt many Japanese would have described themselves as quite happy.

Fast forward to 2014, however, and it is the Australians who are now said to be the happiest people on Earth, while the Japanese rank among the gloomiest.

A recent OECD report, How's Life?, found that the global financial crisis dented confidence among the 36 nations surveyed, particularly in the eurozone.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the increasingly wealthy Aussies and New Zealanders ranked highest on the life satisfaction scale, ahead of the United States, Japan and South Korea.

Australia ranked top overall for the third straight year, thanks to a high employment rate, increased life expectancy and household income, while Australians worked fewer hours than average.

Japan is famous for its safety, and the nation did rank top in personal security. The Land of the Rising Sun also scored highly on education, skills and wealth, but fell below on well-being and work-life balance.

According to the report, life satisfaction and trust in government in Japan dropped to one of the lowest levels in the OECD, perhaps reflecting the impact of the tragic March 2011 disasters.

Japanese people are also known for usually being modest about their prospects, unlike those optimists living in the "Lucky Country" of Australia.

But does it really matter if you feel happy or sad? According to University of Western Sydney professor Satya Paul, "Happy people are more active, more productive and get less upset by work," he told Australia's Age newspaper.

Paul based his claim on a study of 9,300 Australians, which found happier people actually earned more money. The survey accounted for differences in age, education and location.

Anyone who has felt miserable at work will probably agree that happier people do perform better. Having supportive colleagues and superiors can make all the difference when it comes to doing our best.

So how do we all become happier, wealthier workers?

"Faking it until you make it" could be a good strategy, although it helps if you have a good job and income. Maybe we should all just learn the lyrics to McFerrin's song.



The Japan Times ST: April 4, 2014

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