How well is your wellbeing?

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 08:47 23/09/2012

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Are you happy, sociable and enjoying hanging out with family? Or is your sleep-deprived and overworked lifestyle making you miserable?

In the first survey of its kind in New Zealand, the entire nation is being asked to tell all about life, happiness and friendship.

The results will create the Sovereign Wellbeing Index, to measure how we feel about life.

Following a trend in other countries, the survey signals a move away from ranking ourselves on GDP to looking at what makes us tick.

The online survey will be launched in Auckland on Tuesday, with the results out in February.

AUT University public health professor Grant Schofield developed the survey to understand what brings out the best in our lives, and said it could finally answer the age-old question of whether an increasing gap between rich and poor was impacting on our lives.

“That's one of the biggest predictors of how well a country is doing.”

Nations with the greatest financial disparity, such as the United States and Britain, tended to rate lowly in wellbeing, while Scandinavian counties with greater financial equality ranked highly.

Schofield said New Zealand would probably fall between the two extremes, because while the gap was widening, our small population might work in our favour. “One of the big predictors is how much you connect with other people - family and friends. You would think New Zealand would do well on that.”

Sovereign chief executive Charles Anderson said our outgoing attitude and willingness to volunteer was also a strength. "The Kiwi psyche is being outdoors and active."

He said he hoped the survey would spark debate on what wellbeing meant to New Zealand.

AUT psychology lecturer Dr Aaron Jarden, who also worked on the survey, said each culture had a different definition of wellbeing, but good friendships and hope for the future meant high ratings.

The index aims to allow comparison between New Zealand and other countries regarding relationships, lifestyle and quality of life, so Government funding could be targeted to areas of low wellbeing.

The Sovereign Wellbeing Index will take place biennially for six years, to understand if wellbeing is rising or falling. A website address for the online survey will be announced on Tuesday.

Sovereign has also announced it will sponsor Youthline, which provides a 24-hour helpline that fields more than 15,000 contacts a month from young people needing support for issues from bullying to loneliness.

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- Sunday Star Times

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