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10 Takeaways from the Happiest Countries in the World

10 Takeaways from the Happiest Countries in the World
10 Takeaways from the Happiest Countries in the World

10 Takeaways from the Happiest Countries in the World

Every year, independent experts evaluate and rank 156 countries by happiness. As culture changes, so can a nation’s perception of happiness. Let’s take a look at the happiest countries in the world and what makes them happy. Maybe we can learn a thing or two!

Top 10 Happiest Countries in 2019

  1. Finland
  2. Denmark
  3. Norway
  4. Iceland
  5. Netherlands
  6. Switzerland
  7. Sweden
  8. New Zealand
  9. Canada (the only happiest country in the Americas)
  10. Austria

The World Happiness Report considers six key factors when ranking countries by happiness: healthy life expectancy, income, social support, trust, generosity, and freedom. Each can positively or negatively impact a country’s perceived happiness. Here’s a chart from the World Happiness Report 2019 that shows how each factor contributes to the top 10 happiest nations in the world.

happiest countries in 2019

happiest countries legend

Although the correlation of these factors does not necessarily cause happiness, we can still glean from the observations. What can we learn from the happiest nations in the world? How can we shift our perspectives to cultivate happier lives? Here are ten thoughts.

10 Lessons from the Happiest Countries in the World

1. Believe in the goodness of humanity

If you believe others have good intentions, your view on life will dramatically shift for the better. Consider the motivations of your friends, family, coworkers, boss, government, etc. Learn to see the other perspective and believe in their positive intentions.

2. Spend leisure time with people

Social support is a determining factor for ranking national happiness, and spending quality time with others you care about can positively impact this. Make sure you carve out quality time with friends, family, and coworkers in a way that goes beyond your typical workday.

3. Give others a helping hand

If your coworker needs to leave early to attend his daughter’s school play, do you help? You see a grandma in the Target parking lot struggling to unload her cart. Do you give her a hand? Noticing the little needs around us every day and choosing to help when we can, especially for those we care for the most, can pull focus off ourselves and correlate with higher levels of happiness.

4. Eat well to live well

“Diet and exercise” is an overused and abused phrase. Think of this more as choosing a healthier lifestyle. Some of the healthiest cultures are actually some of the happiest cultures. Consider Finland, the #1 happiest country in the world. Fins stick to a Nordic diet, which rivals the Mediterranean diet in health benefits. By treating your body well, your mental health will generally follow.

5. Notice life’s little gems

Mindless routines can lead to tunnel vision. Don’t lose life’s wonder. Notice the little things: how rain makes the grass greener and how birds defy gravity. Keep learning. Inspire constant awe. A thankful heart searching for life’s next adventure can discover greater contentment and happiness in life.

6. Schedule rest in your routine

You’ve heard the phrase, “stop to smell the roses.” Western culture idolizes business, whereas other cultures encourage regular times of rest. It’s well-known the United States is far behind in the PTO game with only ten public holidays a year. Other, happier countries provide 30 or more vacation days. If you need a break, listen to your body–you only get one.

7. Reduce your screen time

Greater time spent in each screen-time activity can associate with increased anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, outbursts of anger, and insomnia. Countries that spend minimal time online, including Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, and New Zealand, also rank in the happiest countries in the world. Psychology Today suggests an electronic fast to reset the nervous system, unlock creativity, and encourage natural play.

8. Get a good night’s sleep

Netflix and YouTube autoplay makes it easier to watch “just one more” before bed. How many times have you started your day exhausted and wished you had tuned out sooner? By getting enough sleep every night, you can positively impact your attitude. Look at the Netherlands. On average, the Dutch get over 8 hours of sleep followed closely by New Zealand. Both rank in the top ten happiest countries in the world.

9. Volunteer your time

Volunteering can associate with higher levels of happiness, according to the World Happiness Report. Freely choosing to volunteer is the key. If you decide to volunteer, believe in the cause, and see how your work makes a difference, you’re more likely to feel greater satisfaction in life.

Pro tip: If you’re not sure where to look for volunteer opportunities, go to Volunteer Match. Search by location to find open volunteer opportunities near you.

10. Donate to charity

Giving to charitable causes or a loved one can trigger the reward center in your brain. If you freely choose to donate and can see the positive effects of your contribution, giving money works similarly to volunteering your time and gaining happiness. A majority of New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Austria give to charities and look where they land on the happiest country list.

You can read the full World Happiness Report 2019 here.

Skylar loves to write. She's cruised the Caribbean, sailed the Mediterranean, and toured the United States. Disney inspires her, and she dreams of living in the mountains.

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