Ask any parent what they want for their children, and the answer will be “Happiness!”

There is a direct connection between resilience of a society and its people and the happiness of people within that society.

According to data from the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the Nordics are once again in the top tier of the World’s Happiest People. This year’s report, which came out March 20, pulled together the scores from the last three years to build a composite score, revealing that the four happiest countries from 2016-2018 are Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland, and the Netherlands in the top 5 with Sweden coming in seventh.

All the top countries tend to have high values for all six of the key variables that have been found to support well-being: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity. Among the top countries, differences are small enough that year-to-year changes in the rankings are to be expected.

The main focus of this year’s report, in addition to its usual ranking of the levels and changes in happiness around the world, is on migration within and between countries. Finland is at the top of both rankings in this report, with the happiest immigrants, and the happiest population in general. While convergence to local happiness levels is quite rapid, it is not complete, as there is a ‘footprint’ effect based on the happiness in each source country. This effect ranges from 10% to 25%. This footprint effect explains why immigrant happiness is less than that of the locals in the happiest countries, while being greater in the least happy countries. Perhaps the most striking finding of the whole report is that a ranking of countries according to the happiness of their immigrant populations is almost exactly the same as for the rest of the population.

You cannot improve what you do not measure!  You cannot improve if you do not know what kind of society and people you wish to create.

Happiness is a direct result of measuring resiliency in people, in place, in knowledge, in organization.  It is the result of a vision of the society that you want to create.  That vision sets forth the plan the society has for population, for migration, for wealth creation, for labor force development, for education and formation, and abundance mindsets.   It is created and supported by articulated strategies for leadership and strategy, health and wellbeing, economy and society, infrastructure and ecosystem.

The resilient society designs, measures, adapts, adopts and aspires.  It welcomes data, and critical analysis of the data, that points the way to growth.   Growth of happiness: through growth in income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity.   Growth of happiness: through articulated strategies to improve leadership and strategy, health and wellbeing, economy and society, infrastructure and ecosystem.

Thoughtful people around the world look for “best practices” to improve outcomes in their work. People in other countries have adapted innovations first tried in other countries and adapted for local needs.

What is striking about the “happiest peoples” is their understanding that analysis of what’s wrong cannot create what’s right. Analysis is only the first step: Just as important are vision and strategy. The ingredients of their winning strategy are not strange to most of us: education and culture work; leadership development; a platform or vision; coops and other structures that align with the vision; community organizing for growth and unity; nonviolent direct action campaigning to force the issue; building to scale in a movement of movements; and keeping our eyes on the prize.

The art is putting the ingredients together in this political moment, whatever it is.

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