How Happy Is Your Country? – World Happiness Report

There are undoubtedly major beneficial side-effects of happiness. Happy people live longer, are more productive, earn more, and are also better citizens. Well-being should be developed both for its own sake and for its side-effects, and the report is a call to action for policymakers across the globe to make happiness a key measure and target of development.

The Most Corrupt Institutions in the World

Earlier this month, Transparency International, the anti-corruption and pro-transparency think tank based out of Berlin, Germany released their 2013 Global Corruption Barometer. The comprehensive survey revealed that a startling 1 in 4 people had paid a bribe in the last 12 months and over half the people surveyed believed corruption had worsened.

Go Big And Then Fly Home Like Valery Rozov

Last week was the 60th anniversary of the first summit of Mt. Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and his sherpa Tenzing Norgay. A lot has changed in 60 years and Everest is still viewed by many as the pinnacle of mountain climbing. After all, it is still the tallest mountain in the world. However, according to some seasoned climbers and adventurers, in the 60 years since Hillary and Tenzing sat atop Everest summit, the mountain, and the process of climbing it, seem to have lost some of its romanticism. Long queues to ascend the summit, a landscape littered with oxygen bottles and other climbing debris, fights between sherpas and climbers, the pressure of high dollar paying clients and more recently, a controversial proposal to set up a ladder bridging one of the more technical sections of the mountain, the Hillary Step, thus increasing the mountain’s accessibility to “idiots who don’t know a crampon from a tampon” have turned Everest into somewhat of a sideshow.

Remembering Those Who Sacrificed

Traveling always gives you an interesting insight into the culture of another country, but an additional benefit of traveling is the ability to reflect back on your own culture and to see it from a different perspective. The observance of holidays, and more specifically the importance placed on some celebrations by the community and society as a whole, is just one of the interesting comparisons you can make after having traveled abroad.

Czech vs. Chech

As everyone is certainly well aware, there was a bombing last week at the 117th running of the Boston Marathon. With no know terrorists organizations claiming immediate responsibility, an anxious public desperately searched for clues and eagerly waited for answers into the identity of the suspect(s). Wild speculation was the order of the day and pundits “in the know” even went as far as to incorrectly and absurdly spew theories about who did it, such as Fox News contributor and overall hack Erik Rush, who claimed “Muslims are evil. Let’s kill them all,” and that it was the Saudi’s who were to blame. A Saudi man was initially questioned by Boston Police but released shortly thereafter.

The Streets of Afghanistan…

… are filled with bombs, bloodshed and radical fundamentalists? A scan of newspaper headlines related to Afghanistan usually yields something negative. Typing the word Afghanistan into the Google News search engine a few minutes ago, the first three results were: “Afghanistan attacks kill dozens of civilians,” “Afghanistan War: Can the US gains last?” and “Pentagon changing lingo for growing threat in Afghanistan.” Not surprisingly, the images that appear alongside these media stories also depict scenes of violence, suffering and destruction. As a result, mention the streets of Afghanistan to someone passing by and they are almost guaranteed to conjure up something bad in their minds. To be sure, Afghanistan has its problems, but finally, someone has uncovered something else about the streets of Afghanistan; the streets of Afghanistan are vibrant, filled with life and frequented by beautiful people.

Debauchery in Timbuktu

When you travel to a place, you develop a connection with that place and the people who call that place home. Regardless of whether or not one’s personal experiences in a place are positive or negative, a connection is still made, and its often the case that the more random the place and the more unique the experience, the more powerful the connection. Personally, I feel all of these connections are positive, even the negative ones, because they are all learning experiences; it might just take a while for the dust to settle in order for one to find the good in something that was bad. As one continues to travel and continues to make more and more connections, it can become difficult to watch or read the news. The news is often focused on the negative; wars, natural disasters, politics, etc., so when a headline flashes across the television or scrolls across the computer screen and the location of that headline is a place with which you have made a connection, it can be emotional and frustrating and depending on how far away you are from that place you have connected with, can make you feel quite helpless.

Celebrate Independence Day… All Month Long

July 4th is Independence Day in the United States. It’s celebrated with camping trips, barbeques and fireworks, although in Colorado the fire danger is so high, fireworks have been banned so we will stick to the beer and brats. Coincidentally enough, the United States isn’t the only country celebrating its independence in July. Although many people in the USA have probably heard of Canada Day and Bastille Day, nearly three dozen other countries and one breakaway republic celebrate their independence, or at least the precursor towards their independence such as the adoption of their respective constitutions or the day on which they became a republic, during the month of July. This year on July 9th, the newest nation in the world, South Sudan, will celebrate independence day for the first time. July is an active month around the world when it comes to nation forming, so no matter where you are, there are bound to be some celebrations going on nearby. Sadly, in a few of these countries, there actually is ongoing conflict, so fireworks in those places really might consist of “bombs bursting in air,” so keep your heads down and stay safe if you happen to be in one.

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