One of my acquaintances collects jewelry, really fine quality jewelry. Her hobby is one that can only be pursued by people of comfortable means. Her husband inherited great wealth and she sells real estate. By any common standard the couple is very well off.
Currently, she is obsessed with Bvlgari. My friend is planning to purchase a necklace fit for a queen. It has several large, colorful precious stones. The piece is very glamorous. For Christmas this year, her husband gave her a classic Cartier wrist watch. It has Art Deco styling with a modern touch. Nobody needs to remind me that Cartier is a top-tier jewelry company.
By outward appearances my acquaintance and her husband have a high quality of life. The main thing that causes people to question their lifestyle is their conspicuous drive to collect very expensive things.
To live the good life is a multidimensional, subjective thing. On a material level someone living the good life enjoys a well-paying job with many perks, there is a comfortable home, and a well-padded bank account. There are other factors like physical and mental health, level of independence, level of education, healthy spiritual outlook, and peace of mind.
A basic human drive is the desire for a good quality of life. We like to see lists of places where more of the population lives the good life. The Forbes Magazine list ranks Canada as the nation with the world’s best quality of life. Next is Sweden, then Denmark, followed by Australia, and fifth is Norway. The United States is number 16.
The inspiration for today’s topic was a story last year on the CBS website that claimed Norway was the happiest country of 2017. The United Nations report based the rankings on levels of caring, freedom to make life decisions, good governance, generosity, health, honesty, and income. Traditionally, the Scandinavian countries are at or near the top of each year’s list.
The United States dropped a notch from 13 to 14 on the list. The drop is due to threats to social support, less personal freedom, threats to civil rights, and increased federal corruption.
As an American, naturally I’m curious about individual state rankings. The Wall Street Journal categorized states according to employment rates, disposable household income per capita, murder rates, and voter turnout. At the top of their list is New Hampshire. Next is Minnesota, Vermont, Iowa, and fifth is North Dakota.
The good life list also includes the poor life list. Using the same criteria, Unsurprisingly we find Mississippi with the worst quality of life among the US states. Next is Alabama, Arkansas, West Virginia, and fifth is Tennessee.
Because all these lists are based on hard data they are limited in scope. Hypothetically a person living in New Hampshire might be living a miserable life while another person who happens to live in Mississippi might feel very happy and blessed.
Whether or not someone believes she or he is living the good life is subjective and varies from day to day. That’s why lists of rankings and economic scales are only rough indicators of public trends. In the end, you don’t need to live in Canada to live the good life, but it doesn’t hurt either.
The Blue Jay of Happiness likes a quote from the late clergyman Douglas Horton. “Life is good when we think it’s good. Life is bad when we don’t think.”