Are you a woman between 30 and 50 years and do you live in a Hungarian small town, perhaps even in Komárom-Esztergom county? Then, statistically you are one of the happiest people in the country, according to the Happiness Map published by the Positive Psychology working group of Eötvös Loránd University and Jobb Veled a Világ (The world is better with you ) Foundation.
The Happiness Map is the result of the first county-level survey of satisfaction with life and the socio-economic and geographic factors associated with it. A total 5332 people between 14 and 80 years were surveyed.
The interviewees from 737 settlements answered 67 questions about their personal situation, happiness, mental health and general well-being. The data was evaluated by the four-member research team at the university, under the leadership of Professor Attila Oláh.
The results of the statistical analysis are not always surprising: On one hand, it was proven that money makes one at least a little bit happier. So people from counties that are doing better economically, such as Komárom-Esztergom, Veszprém, Vas or Zala, are happier than the average citizen in the north-east of the country living in economically weaker counties such as Nógrád, Heves and Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén, where the respondents reached a much lower average on the happiness index based on their answers.
It’s interesting to see that people in small towns and villages saw their lives in more positive ways on average than those living in county capitals or the national capital.
Women participants valued their level of satisfaction higher on average than men. As regards age, the happiness diagram shows an upside-down U, meaning that respondents between 30 and 50 are a lot happier than their neighbours under 30 and over 50.
Happiness decreases primarily after a certain age, which can be explained by illnesses and difficulties of old age, according to the research group. The survey concluded that a high level of education makes you happy, just the same as children and a partnership or marriage.
Only 12.3% of those surveyed reached the highest mental health level, called “flourishing” in the terminology of positive psychology. When compared to other European countries, this value is worse only in Bulgaria, Slovakia, Russia, Portugal or Ukraine.
However, even if you are a single man over 50, living in the eastern part of Hungary (which are factors that have a negative correlation with satisfaction, according to the study), you still don’t have to give up on happiness because, as Professor Oláh says, “everybody is responsible for their own happiness”.
The study also concluded that people who can deal with stress effectively are happier in general, and the good news is that you can learn how. Just try the 10-month free happiness program organised by Jobb Veled a Világ Foundation, or with the help of their brochure titled “54 tips on happiness – an exercise book”, which you can download from www.boldogsagprogram.hu, though only in Hungarian at present.