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mental health mondays :: where even the depressed ones are happy

this past week saw the publication of the annual world happiness report, a look at nations around the world and how people in each of them feel about their lot in life. i started following this a few years ago, and this year it occurred to me that it would be fun to look at how the happy places compared to the crazy places. i mean, what if those countries aren't really all that happy, but just have an extremely high rate of psychotic/ delusional disorders?

so, i set to work putting together a comparison. as it happens, that's a bit trickier than it sounds, because information on any kind of disability is more difficult to come by than you might think. and no type of disability is more controversial than a mental illness, which means that there are even more complications around definitions, seeking treatment, prognoses, record-keeping... it's hard to tell how reliable anything you're looking at is. [not that there aren't some good sources.]

and what sources there are tell an interesting story; many countries that have high rates of depression, for instance, are "happy countries". the happy finns are more depressed than most europeans. the netherlands have one of the most depressed populations in the developed world, but also one of the happiest.  [i've singled out depression, because it's a disorder that fluctuates by country. rates of conditions like schizophrenia are pretty consistent.]

that is not to say that depressed people make for happy countries. the world's worst conflict zones are unhappy and disproportionately depressed. poland is unhappy, especially by european standards, but not depressed. the fact is that "happiness" is ephemeral. the report gives a definition that's measurable, but not all-encompassing. still, their careful methodology gives us something to work from. and it does give some interesting clues.

first and most obvious: money does, to some extent, buy happiness. even though the wealthiest country, the united states, languishes in the drop zone of the top twenty, there's no arguing that wealthier countries are happier. whiteness helps at least as much, possibly more.

but one of the things that jumps out is that the happiest countries all have robust public healthcare systems. the strength of the social safety net in general seems to correlate directly with happiness. that includes education. finland has less money than its neighbours, but that doesn't appear to matter. now, social support is taken as one of the sources of happiness for the purposes of the report, but what's obvious is that, in places where the government isn't taking on the burden of providing social support, the support isn't happening.

it's just a theory, but i think that one of the things that helps is the high ratio of doctors to patients in combination with the accessibility that a public system affords. those who seek treatment and are able to get it in a timely manner are happier, even as they deal with depression.

happy countries do a particularly good job of taking care of their children. mental illness among children is a sad reality, but it gets worse when kids are exposed to trauma or stress at a young age. like, for instance, the stress of not having enough to eat.

there are many, many things that can affect how happy we feel, but it's hard not to draw the conclusion that caring for each other, including vulnerable groups like children and the mentally ill, seems to make a difference. we can recover from mental illness, but in order to be healthy, we need to create systems that can help us be happy.

p.s. :: i know that finland did not have vikings. they are a totally different people. but the viking countries do make up the rest of the top four. so happy viking is still an appropriate image.

p.p.s. :: it's wedenesday, not monday. you're not crazy, at least not in that way. 


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making faces :: written in the stars, in lipstick [part two]

it's the middle of september already? i'm not prepared for that? i mean, i am prepared for it because the heat this summer has been murder on me and i've been begging for a reprieve for months but i'm still bowled over by the speed at which time passes. this year, i've been measuring time through the launches of bite beauty's astrology collection, which arrives like the full moon once a month. [the full moon arrives every four weeks, which is less than any month except february -ed.] earlier this year, i took a look at the first four launches of the collection and already it's time to catch up with four more.

the most important thing for you to know is that after several months of problems, bite and sephora appear to have sorted out their inventory planning. for the last several releases, information has been clear and reliable as to when and where each lipstick will be available [pre-orders taken for a couple of days on bite's own website and a general…

work smarter

i imagine that most people reading this have already started what would be called their "career". career now doesn't have the same connotation that it used to, given that generations past often stuck with one field of work or even a single job for much of their working life, while the average tenure of an employee in the united states as of 2015 was less than five years. among younger workers [millennials and generation z], the average is more like two years.

either way, the workaday world as we once knew it is changing profoundly: some statistics estimate that 50% of american workers will be employed as freelancers by 2027. human resources contractor randstad says that "agile workers" [freelancers, contract or temporary employees already represent 30% of the canadian workforce. such work sounds like a good deal for all: employers can recruit employees for immediate needs rather than having to commit to a permanent position that might become obsolete within a f…

making faces :: can guerlain improve on its rouge g perfection?

earlier this year, guerlain did something that managed to be both predictable and shocking: they discontinued their iconic rouge g lipsticks and reinvented them with new colours and new packaging. given that guerlain had tinkered with almost every part of its cosmetic lineup in the last few years and that the rouge g assortment hadn't had even a refresh since 2014, the line was definitely due for big changes. on the other hand, the rouge g formula has been held up as the goal to which all lipsticks should aspire for years and with good reason. tampering with perfection always entails risk.

thankfully, guerlain have deftly navigated the seas of risk and opportunity to arrive at a final destination that combines their established strength with a clever way of reaching out to new customers, namely those customers who are a little hesitant to fork over the money for the rouge g in its luxury packaging. that said, a number of the new covers are just gorgeous and the allure of variety i…