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Less Happy under Labour?

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

The Happiness Equation: New Zealand's Quest for Joy in a Complex World

In the beautiful land of New Zealand, where the majestic mountains meet the serene shores, a question transcends the breathtaking vistas: "What makes us happy?" It's a question that Brett Slater, a sometimes rebellious business coach in NZ, often ponders.

Why? Central to my coaching is helping business people "solve problems kick goals", sure that's the slogan I wrote, but does it mean anything or have I just been thinking about marketing my business too much?

Going a wee bit higher up the chain, we can look at why business owners even care about resolving business issues and reaching their objectives. Because fundamentally, they seek balance in their mind - that balance may seem to unbalanced to the average punter on the street (90.8 % are wage/salaried - only could find USA stats), but to the rest who are in business, then the balance they are after is what they perceive as happiness. So even though the business people are "outlayers" at less than 9% of the working population, they are just like everyone else - they want to be happy.

Join us on a journey led by curiosity and guided by data (from the World Happiness Report 2023) as we explore the intricate web of happiness. We'll traverse New Zealand's happiness landscape, venture into global territories, and uncover the facets that shape our well-being.

The Happiness Odyssey

What is Happiness, Anyway?

In the bustling streets of Hamilton City, people are busy with their daily lives. But what lies beneath the surface of smiles and frowns? Happiness isn't just an emotion; it's a complex state of being.

The Dalai Lama, a voice of wisdom, once said:

"Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your actions."

It's a profound thought that resonates with many Kiwis who seek balance in life. The Dalai Lama maybe hasn't covered the happiness market, but to me, he's smiling more than anyone I know. It's all-natural, too, and he's first to tell you it took much work. There is no short-term fix, as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that in 2019, 9.7 million people misused prescription pain relievers, 745,000 people used heroin, and 2 million had an opioid use disorder, possibly seeking another route.

There is plenty of research on the positive effects of happiness on the body;

Benefits of Feeling More Joy

  • Promotes a Healthier Lifestyle: Joy encourages positive habits and well-being.

  • Boosts Immune System: Happiness can strengthen the body's defence against illness.

  • Fights Stress and Pain: Joyful emotions can alleviate stress and physical discomfort.

  • Supports Longevity: A joyful disposition may contribute to a longer life.

And I listed where to find some more information at the bottom. Back to it, then...

Climbing the Life Ladder

The World Happiness Report 2023 provides insights, but what about people's perceptions? How do Kiwis rate their life satisfaction, and what do they expect in the future? This article delves into New Zealand's happiness trend, compares it with other nations, and explores underlying factors affecting this vital aspect of human well-being.

Line graph of New Zealand's happiness trend, 2006-2022
A Decline in Joy: New Zealand's Happiness Trend Takes a Dive

New Zealand's Happiness Trend Over Time New Zealand's happiness ranking has seen its ups and downs. The historical perspective paints a picture of a nation that has primarily enjoyed high contentment but has experienced a downward trend.

New Zealand's Happiness Ranking Over Time

But what lies beneath these numbers? Different governments, policies, global events like the COVID-19 pandemic (big dipper at the end), and societal shifts have played a role. Analyzing this trend requires a multifaceted approach, considering everything from political landscapes to individual lifestyles.

The COVID-19 Impact The pandemic has left no part of the world untouched, and New Zealand is no exception. The dip in happiness scores likely reflects the challenges and uncertainties brought about by COVID-19.

Exploring the Downward Trend Understanding why New Zealand is experiencing a downward trend in happiness requires delving into various aspects of life.

Lifestyle Changes Urbanization, shifting family dynamics, and changing community engagement patterns have influenced how Kiwis perceive their lives.

Technology's Impact From fostering connections to creating divides, technology's role in shaping happiness is complex. While it offers unprecedented opportunities, it also brings challenges like work-life balance and digital stress.

Pace and Stress of Life, The accelerating pace of life, increasing work demands, and societal pressures contribute to stress levels. How have these factors affected New Zealand's overall life satisfaction? Imagine happiness as a ladder, with each rung representing contentment. This "Life Ladder" is a tool researchers use to gauge overall life satisfaction. The Life Ladder provides a window into the nation's soul in New Zealand, and its not pretty.

Line graph of New Zealand's happiness trend vs other countries, 2006-2022
Falling Behind in Happiness: New Zealand's Decline Compared to Steady Highs of Associated Countries (2006-2022)

Look closely, and you'll notice the peaks and valleys. Why the fluctuations? Is it the economy, society, or something else? Let's dig deeper.

A Dance with Politics

In the corridors of power, decisions are made that ripple through society. New Zealand's happiness trend dances to the tune of political leadership.

Labour's Red Era: Under Helen Clark, policies focused on community well-being painted the nation red. The happiness graph responded, reflecting a people-centred approach.

National's Blue Wave: John Key and Bill English ushered in a blue era, emphasizing economic development. Happiness levels wavered, reflecting the complexities of growth and well-being.

The Green Touch: Jacinda Ardern and Chris Hipkins added a touch of green, focusing on sustainability and compassion. Yet, the happiness trend shows a decline. Technology, stress, COVID-19, or a blend of all?

Line graph of NZ happiness trend, 2006-2022, red for Labour, blue for National
A Colorful Decline: How Political Parties Appear to Influence Happiness in New Zealand (2006-2022) - A Shocking View

Of course, my observations are simplistic, to say the least, and I've mostly put the political colours on the graph to grab attention, so you might click this article and justify my writing it. Going towards an election, if I was a National candidate, I might be aggressive enough to put that graph on a few billboards in high-traffic areas in the main cities of Aotearoa.

Time for a plug: For insights tailored to your business, explore Professional Business Coach services by Slater Coach.

Bar graph of NZ happiness compared to similar population countries
Size Matters: New Zealand's Happiness in Context with Population Peers

Global Perspective

New Zealand's story is connected. A tapestry of happiness unfolds when compared with Australia, the UK, and the USA.

Culture, politics, and society influence every nation's rhythm. New Zealand's melody is unique, yet part of a global symphony.

Bar graph of New Zealand's happiness compared to related countries
Comparing Joy: How New Zealand's Happiness Stacks Up Against Familiar Faces

The Wealth of Happiness

The Global Wealth Mosaic

Wealth isn't just about money; it's about opportunities, resources, and possibilities. The global wealth distribution reveals a mosaic of economic realities.

Bar graph comparing NZ happiness to Finland and Afghanistan
A Tale of Nations: Happiness from New Zealand to Finland and Afghanistan

The Millionaires' Club:

A significant share of wealth resides with the elite. It's a world of luxury, but does it guarantee happiness?

Pie chart of worldwide wealth distribution by net worth in USD
Slicing the Global Wealth Pie: A Look at Net Worth Categories in Dollars

The Middle Path:

Many find themselves in the middle, balancing dreams and realities. It's a space where happiness often thrives.

The Struggle:

For those at the bottom, life can be a struggle. Happiness becomes a pursuit, often elusive.

Pie chart of worldwide wealth distribution in NZ dollars
A Colorful Insight: New Zealand Dollars Paint the Global Wealth Picture

I've done a quick conversion for you into NZ$, looking at the housing market in NZ, where we've seen the average prices in places in the last few years loitering around the million mark. Worldwide, we are not amongst the masses in comparative poverty. We often need to remind ourselves as being furthest country from anywhere its harder to compare to neighbours.

The Happiness Equation

In the end, happiness is an equation with many variables. Politics, wealth, society, and personal choices all play a part. New Zealand's journey offers a mirror to the world, reflecting the beauty and challenges of the human experience.

With his direct and casual style, Brett Slater invites you to explore the world of Business Coaching. It's a world where happiness and success intertwine, where your dreams are nurtured and goals are achieved.

When you're feeling bogged down and overwhelmed, then you need to start changing stuff on the journey because "There is no path to happiness: happiness is the path." — Buddha.

The Heartbeat of Happiness

Health and happiness are intertwined in a delicate dance. A healthy body and mind often lead to a joyful heart. But how does this connection manifest in New Zealand and across the globe?

3 scatter graphs of NZ Happiness vs GDP, Social Support, Life Expectancy
Mapping Joy: New Zealand's High Rank in Happiness Across Three Key Metrics

Life Expectancy and Joy

Life expectancy is a reflection of a nation's overall health. In New Zealand, people enjoy a high standard of living and healthcare. But does living longer equate to living happier?

Comparing life expectancy with happiness levels reveals intriguing insights. A long life doesn't necessarily mean a happier life. It's the quality, not just the quantity, that counts.

The Wisdom of Age

As we journey through life, our perspectives on happiness evolve. The young seek adventure, the middle-aged seek balance, and the elderly seek contentment.

Happiness Across Generations

Analyzing happiness across different age groups in New Zealand uncovers a fascinating pattern.

The ebbs and flows of happiness through life's stages are a testament to human resilience and adaptability.

Whether you're a young entrepreneur or a seasoned business owner, Brett Slater's Business Coaching can guide you towards fulfilment.

Global Perspectives and Lessons

A World of Contrasts

New Zealand's happiness story is one chapter in a global book. Comparing happiness trends with countries like Finland (the happiest) and Afghanistan (the least comfortable) offers a stark contrast. (above). Something we might think more of when considering letting more people come live here; sometimes where they are coming from just isn't ok.

The contrasts are not just numbers but narratives of culture, governance, community, and individuality. They teach us that happiness is as diverse as humanity itself. Still, it helps as a reminder of our gratitude to look at where we are compared to the extremes; we're still ok.

The Ripple Effects of Wealth

Worldwide wealth distribution is a complex puzzle, and New Zealand is a piece of that puzzle. Exploring the relationship between wealth and happiness unearths profound connections.

Wealth can open doors, but it's not the key to happiness. The pursuit of material success must be balanced with emotional and spiritual growth.

Conclusion: The Symphony of Happiness

In the end, happiness is a symphony composed of many notes. Politics, health, age, and wealth - all contribute to the melody of life.

New Zealand's happiness journey is a melody that resonates with many, a unique and universal tune.

It's a song Slater Coach understands well, guiding individuals and businesses towards harmony, success, and joy. There is plenty more to conside but we're out of space. thank you to the World Happiness Report 2023.

The Buddha once said:

"Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it."

May we all find our path to happiness guided by wisdom, compassion, and curiosity.

Your business needs to support your life and happiness, not vice versa.

Line graph of NZ Happiness 2006-2022, red & blue for parties, 'Less happy under Labour
A Humorous Dip: Is New Zealand Less Happy Under Labour? A Tongue-in-Cheek Look at Happiness Trends

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