The Media Project is a network of mainstream journalists who are Christians pursuing accurate and intellectually honest reporting on all aspects of culture, particularly the role of religion in public life in all corners of the world. It welcomes friends from other faiths to such discussions and training.

Happiest countries are richer, more secular

Happiest countries are richer, more secular

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FROM MSNBC NEWS. In the wake of their World Cup loss, residents of the Netherlands may be feeling depressed. But there's reason to believe they won't be done in by the agony of defeat: According to a recent poll, the country is one of the happiest in the world.

Championship-winning Spain, on the other hand, was swept with euphoria and national pride, but that may have been an unfamiliar feeling. The country ranks No. 17 of 21 European countries in terms of happiness.

The fact is good times probably have more to do with the size of your wallet than the size of your trophy shelf. The five happiest countries in the world — Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands — are all clustered in the same region, and all enjoy high levels of prosperity.

Quantifying happiness isn't an easy task. Researchers at the Gallup World Poll went about it by surveying thousands of respondents in 155 countries, between 2005 and 2009, in order to measure two types of well-being.

First they asked subjects to reflect on their overall satisfaction with their lives, and ranked their answers using a "life evaluation" score between 1 and 10. Then they asked questions about how each subject had felt the previous day. Those answers allowed researchers to score their "daily experiences" — things like whether they felt well-rested, respected, free of pain and intellectually engaged.

Subjects that reported high scores were considered "thriving." The percentage of thriving individuals in each country determined our rankings.

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