The Happiest Countries According to the 2015 World Happiness Report

Switzerland's citizens are the happiest. And the United States clocks in at No. 15, just below Mexico and just above Brazil.

Yesterday, the 2015 World Happiness Report was published. This is the third such report done since 2012 that attempts to chart people's satisfaction with their lives in over 150 countries across the globe. Gallup polls of 1,000 people per country each year between 2012 and 2014 (so, ideally 3,000 people in total per country, but some countries missed a year) asked people to rate their lives on a scale from 1-10, which is then averaged nationally.

Each national "happiness bar" is made up of six factors. There's also a "Dystopia" variable that represents an imaginary country with the world’s least-happy people, so there's a base benchmark against which to measure the real countries. The other six factors—real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity—are things that can be tentatively measured and multiplied by an estimated coefficient for how much that factor would influence a given person's happiness.

The table showing these coefficients is difficult to make sense of without reading the rest of the report, but here's what it looks like:

The report, which you can read in full here [PDF], is produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and contains analysis from leading experts in the fields of economics, neuroscience, and national statistics. In addition to ranking the countries, the report also describes how the measurement of something as subjective as happiness can and should be used as a way of assessing national progress. The goal is not just to inform but also to inspire reform.

"As the science of happiness advances, we are getting to the heart of what factors define quality of life for citizens," the report's editor, Professor John F. Helliwell of the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, told Science Daily. "We are encouraged that more and more governments around the world are listening and responding with policies that put well-being first. Countries with strong social and institutional capital not only support greater well-being, but are more resilient to social and economic crises."

Above you can see the happiness rating for the first 53 countries. To see all 158, click through to the PDF above.

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San Pedro, California Is Home to the Country’s Only Volunteer-Run Post Office

A vintage postcard of San Pedro, California.
A vintage postcard of San Pedro, California.
Boston Public Library Tichnor Brothers, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

There are more than 30,000 post offices in the United States, but only one of them is staffed entirely by volunteers. As Fast Company reports, the nonprofit-run Assistance League Post Office has been serving customers in San Pedro, California, since 1964.

The Assistance League Post Office is one of many contract postal units around the country. Contract postal units are run privately instead of publicly, usually by a business. The post office in San Pedro is unique in that it's operated by a nonprofit organization.

More than 50 years ago, the San Pedro chapter of the Assistance League opened the post office to service its growing community, which includes the Port of Los Angeles. The location only sold stamps for decades, then expanded into a full-service post office in 1990. In addition to running the local postal service, the Assistance League of San Pedro provides low-income residents with orthodontia care, glasses, sexual assault survivor kits, and new school clothes—all resources that revenue from the post office helps pay for.

To make its charitable mission possible, the post office relies on volunteers. Post office chairman Gayle Merrick runs a staff of 17 volunteers—all retired women between the ages of 65 and 87. Their backgrounds range from medicine to education, and they commit to giving three to four days of their time to the post office each month. Many people who volunteer at the Assistance League Post Office stick around for a while; the longest-serving volunteer worked there for a quarter of a century.

The San Pedro post office closed to the public in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and its customers and volunteers are still waiting for it to return. Merrick tells Fast Company that she hopes to reopen by October 1, in time to help process local mail-in ballots for the 2020 election.

[h/t Fast Company]