June 2015

According to the third annual World Happiness Report (WHR) - produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, an initiative under the United Nations using input from leading experts across various fields, Switzerland came top of the 158 countries examined.

I suppose it’s lucky the Report was prepared prior to the results of this year’s SIHH and Baselworld because happiness was not one of the feelings dominating these two annual events. Glum, miserable, bordering on depressing might be more appropriate.

So what is ‘happiness’? According to the Collins English Dictionary, “feeling, showing or expressing joy; causing joy or gladness; slightly intoxicated” (I can handle that one); and the winner is… “the position of not having to work” which is not the case in Switzerland since they voted against shorter working hours not so long ago.
But laughter wasn’t mentioned in the definition, which I find odd. Surely a good laugh is also a must in happiness; it needn’t have you rolling on the floor, it can be something simple like – I went to the doctor the other day and he said, “Say aah.” So I said, “Why?” He replied, “My dog died.” See what I mean?

Happiness, however, is so very subjective; what’s happiness for one person might be purgatory for the next – think dentist! Some people probably don’t even realise that they’re happy until it’s too late – like the man who said he and his wife had been happy for thirty years, then they met each other. So who can decide what is and is not happiness?

Switzerland exported around 26 million watches in 2014 bringing in around 24.3 billion dollars and yet the manufacturers had long faces at the beginning of this year, so last year’s money doesn’t seem to play a role. Personally I’d be happy with a small piece of the action. But if happiness is associated with money, then according to the International Monetary Fund, then China and the USA should be far happier than Switzerland – which is in 39th place. However, if money isn’t the factor and as they say it can’t buy happiness, it can certainly make you comfortable while you’re being miserable.

Swiss Chocolate
Swiss Chocolate

My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that Switzerland heads the happiness stakes because of the three Cs: chocolate, cheese and cholesterol.
According to Chocolate Confectionery Consumers, Switzerland is the world’s largest consumer of chocolate, weighing in at 11.5 kilos of chocolate eaten per capita per annum, that’s around 93,815,804 kilos of chocolate eaten in the country in 2014. That’s really a lot of yummy, happy moments.
As for the cheese, the Swiss Farmers Union claims that the average Swiss resident ate 21.37 kilos of cheese in 2014. That’s 174,334,238 kilos of fondue and raclette being consumed with a few bottles of white wine, a combination that certainly causes joy or gladness.
Did you know that it takes at least one cow working full time to satisfy the cheese consumption per forty residents? Add a few more cows to that for the milk that goes into chocolate and there are at least 50,000 of Switzerland’s 700,000 cows chomping grass for the country’s cheese and chocolate intake. No wonder the Milka cow is a funny colour.
It also appears that the massive ingestion of cholesterol from the cheese and chocolate has no effect on the Swiss population’s health, since according to the life expectancy charts have Switzerland 4th in the list, so one must assume that the three Cs are the answer. Japan heads some of the life expectancy lists but I’ll bet a pound to a penny you can’t guess which other country has long-life bunnies … go on have a guess … no, it’s Monaco, the rock where one person in three of the 36,000 population is either a millionaire or a billionaire. Could it be the champagne and caviar?

Charles Schulz, the man that wrote and drew the wonderful Peanuts cartoons, said, “My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I’m happy. I can’t figure it out. What am I doing right?” Who knows Charles, ask the Swiss.

All of which reminds me of a story about an Englishman, a Frenchman, and a Russian who were discussing the meaning of happiness.
The Englishman said, “Happiness is rising early in the autumn, saddling a horse and galloping behind the hounds in pursuit of the fox. Then back home with the ears and tail of the fox to sit by a roaring fire with a glass of port. That is happiness.”
The Frenchman said, “Non, ‘appiness is being with the love of your life, ‘aving a wonderful meal with champagne and then making love all night long. That is ‘appiness.”
The Russian said, “Niet, happiness is when you are in your room after a day’s work in the factory, reading Pravda with your son Igor on your knee. There is a knock at the door and three KGB men come storming in and say, ‘Ivan Ivanovich?’ You reply, ‘Niet, in the room upstairs.’ That, my friends, is happiness.”
Well, you’ve got to laugh haven’t you.

Source: Europa Star June 2015 Magazine Issue