The Happiest Place on Earth

8 Jul
Green (most happy), Blue, Purple, Orange, Red (least happy)

Green (most happy), Blue, Purple, Orange, Red (least happy)

When someone says, “I just got back from the happiest place on Earth,”  what usually comes to mind is a sweet dream about candyland or Disney World.  Maybe not anymore.  According to the New Economics Foundation, a British independent “think-and-do” tank, Costa Rica turns out to be this planet’s nirvana.  The Happy Planet Index measure not the value of a country in dollar amounts, but rather the greater well being, happiness, and healthiness of the country.  In addition it measures the sustainable development footprint, which will improve the lives in the future.

This challenges the thought that countries with higher GDPs and HDIs live happier lives, as the study doesn’t even take those measures into account.  In a world where we think of development as a form of government, pumping money into projects, and driving fancy cars, this has to make you think.  Central America pretty much swept the top.  Following Costa Rica in happiness was the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Guatemala and Vietnam.   Out of the 143 countries in the study, the US ranked a pitiful 114.  That may come as no surprise considering 1 in 10 women in the U.S. are on antidepressants, with men just slightly behind.  On top of that, our sustainability footprint is one of the worst in the world, bringing down our grade for the future.

Developed nations are so quick to judge our less developed neighbors, and seem to have all the right answers for them.  We tell them how to run their countries, plant their crops, build their homes and drive their cars.  We tell them where money should go and who shouldn’t have any.  We support military coups and fund military operations.  We teach their children that our way is the right way.  But the right way to what?  Hot water and clean cloths?  Maybe it is.  Happiness?  Probably not.

I think this just goes to show that we too have a lot to learn.  The ‘Pura Vida‘ lifestyle seems to be working, what is holding us back from embracing it?  Or maybe we just need monkeys, beautiful beaches and tasty food.

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