Family warmth is key to happiness in the northeast province of Yasothon, which has been called the happiest place in Thailand. The Kingdom was ranked 36th in the world and second in Asean after Singapore in a United Nations survey to mark International Da
Khamphan Sutthi-akan, 62, a resident in Muang Yasothon, said his 13-strong family owns a 25-rai rice field and three buffaloes. Of the 25 rai, 10 rai has been turned into a tapioca plantation and 5 rai has rubber trees.
Khamphan and his sons-in-law work on the farm, while his daughters work in the city and his wife takes care of their grandchildren.
“Our family is happy. We wake up early to have breakfast together. We lead a self-sufficient lifestyle and don’t spend beyond our means,” he said.
Khamphan’s family was among families nominated by the Yasothon Social Development and Human Security Office for the Krob Kreu Romyen (Happy Family) 2014.
The winning family was that of Man Samsi, a 65-year-old organic rice farmer in Kut Chum district.
Provincial official Phatcharee Kulrat said families nominated for the competition were those made up of at least three generations, who follow the self-sufficiency principle and have a decent vocation.
She said nominated families should also have a warm home environment and family members must be moral, united and loving toward one another. There can be no divorces or lawsuits among family members and no civil or criminal convicts, or individuals who abuse drugs or other vices.
Family warmth is a key indication to happiness, according to Mental Health Department chief Jedsada Chokdamrongsuk. He said three factors feature among happy families: members take care of one another in sickness and in health, they feel safe at home and have a strong, loving bond.
The department and National Statistics Office jointly conducted a survey in 2012 of the general mental health of Thais and found that the five happiest provinces were Yasothon (8.35 points), Surin (8.03), Trang (7.97), Nakhon Phanom (7.96) and Pathum Thani (7.85).
At the other end of the spectrum was Samut Songkhram, whose low score in family happiness was put down to the province not having enough industry to support workers, which meant young people were forced to leave their parents and kids behind and look for jobs elsewhere.
However, Samut Songkhram Provincial Administrative Organisation president Pisit Seusaming said it was normal for people to migrate elsewhere for work.
Sa-ngob Saengchan stays home with two grandchildren, aged six and nine, while her four children work in other provinces and visit on weekends. The 73-year-old grandmother said her main job was looking after the house and the young ones, but she also worried about her own health.
“I’m happy to be with my grandchildren,” she said, but added that she could not rely on youngsters to take care of her if she falls sick. “Luckily, they don’t cause any trouble, study hard and listen to me.”