Thais mixed on the UN's first International Happiness Day
Ahead of the first International Day of Happiness today, the UN ranked Thailand as the 52nd-happiest of 156 countries, and third in Asean after Singapore (33rd in the world) and Malaysia (51st).This is a drop from the 2012 UN World Happiness Report, which placed Thailand eighth in another type of evaluation - "good mood" rankings. Thailand's overall happiness index rose to 33.59 points, with Nakhon Phanom the "happiest" province, Bangkok "glum" at 65th, and Samut Songkram least happy.
Mental Health Department chief Wachira Pengchan said the survey found that Thais were generally cheery, but development was needed to elevate people's sense of satisfaction with their income, work, community relations, values promoting happiness and religion, physical health, mental health, family relationships, education and gender and social equity.
He urged people to spend time with their family, engage in activities to boost happiness such as regular exercise and meditation, secure stable jobs that deliver sufficient income, and avoid getting in debt to loan-sharks.
He said communities should look out for the elderly, chronically ill, single-parent families, drug/alcohol addicts and the disabled.
National Statistics Office deputy director Rajjana Netsaengtip said that Thais' happiness had gradually risen over the past five years, according to an annual countrywide happiness survey.
Out of a maximum 45 points, Thailand scored 31.8 in 2008, 33 in 2009, 33.3 in 2010, 32 in 2011 and 33.59 in 2012.
The survey found the "happiest" province was Nakhon Phanom, followed by Phichit, Trang, Chaiyaphum and Krabi, while least happy provinces were Samut Songkram, followed by Samut Prakan, Sa Kaew, Phuket, Nong Khai and Kanchanaburi.
Nakhon Phanom was happiest because it had middle incomes but high family security, while the least happy provinces had high numbers of migrant workers who had left families to find work, hence their mood was bleaker.
Migration for education, however, had a different effect as such migrants tended to be full of hope for a brighter future.
She said Bangkok was a hub of political conflict and a place where people didn't spend much time with family, both of which took a toll mentally.