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It’s a Hap, Hap, Happy Day!

Updated: Feb 17, 2023

I have often wondered why people in certain parts of the planet are happier than others. I did some digging and discovered the secret of the happiest people in the world.

Those who manage to sleep at least seven hours a night, have a few good friends they can count on, eat five or six fresh fruit servings a day, walk a fair bit and limit their work to 40 hours a week are happy.

So, where do these people live? One area is Costa Rica, where residents enjoy the pleasure of living daily life to the fullest. The main reason is, basic needs are covered, allowing people to pursue their passions at work and leisure. Academics refer to this as ‘Eudaimonic Happiness,’ a term from the ancient Greek word for ‘happy.’ The concept was made popular by Aristotle, who believed, true happiness came only from a life of doing what was worth doing.

Denmark is another country which has most consistently topped Europe’s happiness rankings for the past 40 years. Their society and government have developed to make it easy to live an interesting life.

Singapore, which has a reputation for having a semi-fanatical drive for success, is third on the list. Its claim to fame is the ability to gain great wealth easier than any other country.

So the question is, how do you measure happiness? This is where it gets complicated. Happiness is something everyone feels in a different way. If you had to measure happiness, what would you do?

Researchers found about three-quarters of human happiness is driven by six factors: strong economic growth, healthy life expectancy, quality social relationships, generosity, trust and freedom to live the life that’s right for you. This sounds simple and straightforward, but to achieve these factors, governments have to create an environment for happiness to grow.

Half a million immigrants to Canada were surveyed over a 40-year period. They came from 100 countries, many of which were considerably less happy than we are. Within a few years of arriving, people reported a large increase in happiness level in their adoptive home. This indicates the environment accounts for a big part of happiness.

People are able to pursue their goals in countries like Costa Rica, Singapore and Denmark, yet not at the expense of joy and laughter. They appear to have greater pride in what they have accomplished. They’re able to do this, in many cases, because their governments, communities and neighbourhoods have created an environment which favours long-term well-being instead of facilitating a rat race where materialistic needs are all that matter.

Don’t worry, be happy!

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube.

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