Most of us probably didn’t notice, but March 20th was the International Day of Happiness, by declaration of the United Nations. While the spirit of that day was most likely lost amongst the growing conflict in Ukraine, continued unrest in Syria and the multi-country search for missing Malaysia Airline flight 370, the sentiment was certainly a good one. Happiness plays an important role in our level of satisfaction, and it can make a difference in the quality of our lives. In conjunction with this special day, the U.N. also released their latest World Happiness Report, which analyzes data regarding human happiness and gives us a list of the top ten countries that score high in that area.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of the countries that make up that top ten list come from the same region of the world. With the exception of three outliers, seven of the places on the list are found in Scandinavia. That makes you wonder what it is about that part of the world that inspires such high levels of satisfaction and contentment. Those countries are known for their clean air, beautiful landscapes, per capita income, and overall good health. But whatever the factors are that make the inhabitants of those countries happy, the rest of the world can probably learn something from them.
The top ten happiest countries in the world, according to the report, are as follows:
1. Denmark 2. Norway 3. Switzerland 4. Netherlands 5. Sweden 6. Canada 7. Finland 8. Austria 9. Iceland 10. Australia
The three countries that aren’t located on the European continent are Australia, Iceland and Canada of course. Those countries also have a reputation for a relaxed, easy going, and active lifestyle, which certainly goes a long way towards promoting happiness. Those places also have amazing outdoor environments and a good overall standard of living, which doesn’t hurt things either.
Absent from the list are the idyllic beach settings that are often a favorite amongst travelers. For instance, none of the countries from the Caribbean or South Pacific earned a mention, even though their laid back, accommodating vibe is often very attractive for those looking for a relaxing escape in near perfect weather.
The countries that comprise the top ten happiest places have plenty to offer travelers as well. For instance, Norway’s arctic landscapes are breathtaking, and offer opportunities to spot polar bears, while the Netherlands provide a lovely countryside to tour on the back of a bike. Visitors to Iceland will be enthralled with the Northern Lights and geothermal activity, and the legendary Aussie charm is something that everyone should experience at least once.
While travel in general tends to make us happy, visiting a place that is known for its happiness is probably only going to add to that feeling.