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Are People in More Peaceful Countries Happier?


We praise peace, but it doesn’t seem to correlate with happiness. Why? And what can we do about it?

Peace is Praised

World peace is a synonym for the ultimate good and the worthiest goals for humanity.

Likely, peace is so praised because it is associated with happiness, which we all hope to achieve.

But does peacefulness correlate with happiness?

Let’s see:

Comparison of Countries’ Peacefulness and Happiness Rankings
Comparison of Countries’ Peacefulness and Happiness Rankings
The chart represents 163 countries. Not all are labeled.

Around the origin, the answer seems to be yes: more peaceful countries are happier.

But the correlation quickly stops.

So, for most of the world, the answer is no: more peaceful countries aren’t necessarily happier.

Why is it So?

While many reasons can be suggested, maybe there is an underlining one: meaning.

A sense of meaning is what most of us humans crave. Meaning is the underlying motivation for everything we do or don’t do.

The problem is that most sources for a sense of meaning are elusive and not sustainable.

Conflict, on the other hand, can potentially provide a griping, tenacious, inexhaustible sense of meaning.

On an individual level, one of the positive effects of war is that it makes people feel more alive, alert, and awake. In James’ words, it “redeem[s] life from flat degeneration.” It supplies meaning and purpose, transcending the monotony of everyday life.

The Psychology of War | Psychology Today

And so, people in conflicted regions have less peace – but more sense of meaning. For this reason, they might not see themselves as miserable as we expect.

And vice versa. In more peaceful regions, lacking conflicts, people might struggle to find a sustainable source of meaning and find themselves miserable for no good reason.

The war is the last opportunity to bring salvation to the human soul.


We’re ready to sacrifice ourselves. Because if we don’t win, we’ll burn it all down. If we can’t achieve this bright future, then what’s the point in living?

Behind the New Iron Curtain, by Marzio G. Mian, Translated by Elettra Pauletto | Harper’s Magazine

The tragedy is that once brighter futures are achieved, not all succeed in utilizing them for happiness.

Maybe this is why peace is so unstable: we don’t know how to enjoy it once we have it.

What Can We Do About It?

First, the start of the chart gives some hope. It shows that peacefulness and happiness can correlate, as we would like to expect.

Maybe a region needs to be peaceful enough, long enough, for its inhabitants to find other sustainable sources of meaning, rather than a conflict.

And, maybe, promoting other sustainable sources of meaning can help reduce our tendency to find meaningful refuge in conflicts, and diminish the allure of war.

Hobbies can provide sustainable sources of meaning.

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