The UAE is the only country in the world possessing a Minister of Happiness and the position is held by a lady named “Ohood Al Roumi” who in 2016 went on record saying, "Happiness is a serious job for governments," she added "The main job for the Government is to create Happiness”. This is indeed a refreshing view and most Governments will try to convince us that GDP is the most important measurable factor of a country’s ultimate success – how wrong they could be!
In 2011, the UN encouraged all member countries to look at Happiness by means of a holistic approach for development. Sadly, not so many nations have taken this too seriously. On a continent level, Europe is locked in austerity, the US is facing conflict of all kinds, much of South America is marred in corruption, Asians tend to be workaholics and several Middle Eastern as well as African countries face the ravages of civil war and terrorism; clearly not the ideal conditions around the world to generate Happiness!
Yet, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai “Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid” stated that the Minister of State for Happiness will have the responsibility to "align and drive government policy to create social good and satisfaction". He also publicly stated, "We want a government that works on building the skills of its people, aside from providing services ... a government focused on putting the Happiness of citizens at the forefront of its priorities". Essentially, the aim of the UAE Government is to empower people to be happy, which in turn will enable a stable environment, linking to benefits in education, hospitals, health, dignity and security.
From my days of professional training and lifestyle coaching, I know that the psychology of Happiness boils down to internal peace. Happiness is simply between oneself and the universe – it was Ghandi who once said, “be the change you want to see in the world” which emphasizes the importance on self-motivation. I learned over time that you can take a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink; therefore, we all must take ownership to assume the individual responsibility for our own Happiness. However, Governments if serious about the well-being of their citizens, should guide people and society how to be happy, moreover it should dominate the agenda and that also would be good advice for the media. Sadly, mostly Governments fall woefully short of this and along with the constant negative news and fear mongering of the media, together they collude to become the main cause of stress and fear within the societies across our world today.
In terms of attention, it’s critical to focus on what we have instead of the contrary argument. Many people simply do not know how to be happy, hence if this ring true for you personally, try not to get lost in past or future context; instead focus on the present moment, which is all we have! Observe yourself for a reality check and ask questions to your mirror image to see how you are progressing on the Happiness front on a regular basis. It all starts at the beginning of the day, when I suggest you ask yourself, how can I make this day count?
It may surprise you to know, that talk of Happiness in Government is nothing new, as certain countries included Happiness in their constitution some 350 years ago. I believe the main role of Government is to create the conditions for Happiness as the ultimate outcome for society.
The UAE is ranked the 21st Happiest country in the world in 2017, up from 28th place last year, according to the UN World Happiness Report. Norway, Denmark, Switzerland and Iceland occupied the top 4 slots, but the people there never seem to be so happy when I visit, at least! The UAE is the Happiest country in the GCC region and has held this position for some years.
I wrote this article, because I’m tired of seeing unhappy non-smiling faces wherever I roam. While, we are all living longer due to lifestyle and medical advances, it’s not the time in our lives that truly matters; conversely, it’s the “Life in our time” that counts most! So, the next day some asks, “How are you?” say “it’s another day in paradise” but don’t think twice!