Indonesia is one of the many developing countries located in Southeast Asia. With the level of health, education and income that has not been said to be sufficiently good, the Indonesian people do not appear to have fallen living life as citizens of developing countries with many polemics which often arise from various aspects of life. Even in 2014, Indonesia’s happiness index rose with a considerable percentage difference for a period of one year.
Reporting from the website of the Central Statistics Agency , the significant increase in happiness index was 3.17 percent, where in 2013 Indonesia’s happiness index was 65.11 and in 2014 Indonesia’s happiness index rose to 68.28. Based on Dream.co.id’s online newspaper website , there is no mention of what percentage of the increase in happiness index of other countries, but with the presence of several countries, especially developed countries, which even fell in rank, the increase in numbers scored by Indonesia could be quite high.
Wijayanti and Nurwianti (2010: 116) say that Indonesian happiness is higher than European countries, such as Spain, Italy, and Germany. Indonesia ranks 40th out of 97 countries in the level of happiness of its inhabitants. In addition, based on the world happiness map proposed by a psychologist from the University of Leicester, England, the happiness level of Indonesia is ranked 64th out of 178 countries in the world. The Nation SWLS Score from the study shows that Indonesia ranks above other Asian countries, such as Taiwan (68), China (82), and Japan (90) (Sutanto (2006) in Wijayanti and Nurwianti (2010: 116)).
The happiness index according to the Central Statistics Agency website is calculated based on 10 essential aspects of life, including 1) health, 2) education, 3) employment, 4) household income, 5) family harmony, 6) leisure availability, 7) relationships social, 8) housing and asset conditions, 9) environmental conditions, and 10) security conditions. One factor that becomes a benchmark for happiness index is health, especially mental health. A high happiness index shows that people in a country do not experience many mental disorders where one of the causes of mental disorders is stress. This shows that the level of stress experienced by the Indonesian people is quite low.
Stress is a condition that is internal, which can be caused by physical, environmental, and social situations that are potentially damaging and uncontrolled (Sriati, 2007). Stress can come from individuals, family environment, living environment and can also come from places where individuals spend a lot of time such as offices and places of education (Pedak, 2009).
If a stressful situation is left to someone, without any treatment or treatment efforts, it is certain that many people in this world will experience psychiatric disorders (Tristiadi, 2007: 37). Even in this global era stress tends to attack more people with high economic levels than people with low economic levels, however there are differences compared to the levels of stress experienced by each group of people (Kisker, 1997).
Dong Yul Lee (1999: 352) argues that empirical evidence shows that the correlation between welfare and happiness is culture. Compton (2005) in Wijayanti and Nurwianti (2010: 118) say that individuals have different ways of looking for happiness according to their culture. Oishi and Diener (2001) in Wijayanti and Nurwianti (2010: 118) suggest that things that make happiness in individualist and collectivist cultures are completely different.
People with individualist cultures will be happy with their lives if their self-esteem increases and they have the freedom to do something. People in collectivist cultures place more importance on harmonious relationships and can fulfill the desires of others. One of the things that makes people happy is when they can live their lives according to their cultural values and norms (Wijayanti and Nurwianti, 2010: 118).
The strength of character that contributes to happiness between one community group and another community group varies. An internet survey conducted by Park, Peterson, and Seligman (2004) on 5,299 adults of various races and ethnicities proved the existence of an association between happiness and the strength of the character of hope, enthusiasm, gratitude, love, and curiosity. In addition, in Switzerland it was found that the strength of the character that contributed most to happiness was permanence, while in America it was grateful (Beerman (2007) in Wijayanti and Nurwianti (2010: 120)).
Diener and Diener (1995) in Dong Yul Lee (1999: 352) explained that the correlation between self-esteem and life satisfaction is far stronger in individualistic culture than in collective culture. Every culture must be understood from its own frame of reference, including the existing ecological, historical, philosophical and religious contexts (Kim et al, 2006). Culture has its own contribution to the formation of individual psychological concepts, as well as the concept of happiness (Anggoro and Widhiarso, 2010: 178).
Uchida et al. (2004) in Anggoro and Widhiarso (2010: 184) in his research on the cultural construction of happiness, found that there were differences in the meaning of happiness in the context of Western (individualistic) and Eastern (collectivistic) cultures. Social relations problems and environmental demands to improve self-achievement and personal inability to fulfill these demands can cause stress in a person (Mastura, 2007).
Wijayanti and Nurwianti (2010: 118) argue that the principle of life of the Javanese who has a lot of influence on peace of mind is sincere (nrima). With this principle, the Javanese are satisfied with their fate. Whatever has been held in his hand is done happily. Nrima means not wanting the property of others and not envy the happiness of others. They believe that human life in this world is governed by the Almighty in such a way that there is no need to work hard to get something. (Herusatoto, 2008).
There is a relationship between the strength of character and happiness in the Javanese and the strength of character contributes significantly to the happiness of the Javanese. The level of happiness of the Javanese is above average. The five main character strengths of the Javanese are thankfulness, kindness, demography, justice, and integrity, and the strength of character that contributes meaningfully to happiness in the Javanese is perseverance, creativity, perspective, justice, vitality, curiosity, and forgiveness. (Wijayanti and Nurwianti, 2010: 120)
Thus, even though Indonesia is a developing country with various aspects of its life which are quantitatively lacking, with various values and norms adhered to by all its people and eastern cultures that are still held firmly, Indonesian society gets its own enlightenment and peace in living their lives, especially in dealing with stress that ends in mental disorders as is the case in many developed countries with intense competition in life and high levels of individual society. Happiness alone cannot be calculated only by the economic level of a country but by the socio-cultural conditions of its people.
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Dong Yul Lee, et. al. (1999). “What Makes You Happy?: A Comparison of Self-Reported Criteria of Happiness between Two Cultures”. Social Indicators Research, Vol. 50, No. 3 (Jun 2000), pp. 351-362.
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 http://www.bps.go.id/brs/view/id/1117 (diakses pada tanggal 20 Desember 2015)
 http://www.dream.co.id/dinar/indeks-kebahagiaan-indonesia-naik-paling-tinggi-di-dunia-151120q.html(diakses pada tanggal 20 Desember 2015)
This article was written by Nitya Swastika, an alumnus of Anthropology , Faculty of Cultural Sciences, UGM while interning at the Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).