Nat Geo on happiness

I read a great article in National Geographic about places where people are happier than most. The article looks specifically at the effect of “place” and how your environment shapes you. But it’s never really the place, is it? It’s a package. And what Nat Geo was looking at was long-term happiness – not a simple “good time” vacation get-away.

In Costa Rica, happiness comes from strong family bonds, universal healthcare, strong faith, lasting peace, equality, time spent outdoors, and generosity. In the 1940s, Costa Rica elected a teacher as president. This resulted in a decision to provide free education for all, to eliminate the army, and to set up a universal healthcare system with a goal of keeping people healthy rather than trying to cure them after they’re sick.

In Denmark, universal healthcare, free education for all, and a balance between work and home help create a happy community. And this is interesting: More than 90% of Danes belong to a club or an association, from Cold-water Swimmers to Rabbit Breeders. 40% volunteer with civic groups. And in Copenhagen, 62% of people bike to work!

In Boulder, Colorado, citizens work hard to keep the beauty of the city in balance with the amazing mountains around them. No buildings over 5 stories are allowed, and the city maintains over 300 miles of bike routes that web the city. This allows many to bike to work causing less pollution and really fit workers! Eating healthy food in Boulder is also an obsession.

We can’t all live in beautiful places like Costa Rica, Denmark, or Boulder. We don’t have control over universal healthcare. And we don’t have the ability to eliminate armies. But happy people are delightful to be around, and they get stuff done! So what can we do to help promote more happiness in our lives and in the lives of those we love?

  1. Do your best to stay healthy – eat healthy food, get outside, and work on eliminating bad habits. Can you figure out a way to make exercise part of your life? Like biking to work?
  2. Join a club or association – find a tribe where you can be yourself, not a group where you have to work to fit in.
  3. Recognize, appreciate, and spend time in the natural beauty that’s around you.
  4. Be generous with who you are and what you can offer your family and your community.
  5. Honor your connection to the Universe. You’re living where you are for a reason. How can you make it a little better?

Sending you warm wishes from the beautiful state of Maine where it’s 13 below this morning. Check out this great shot of the “sea smoke” and the frozen ocean by Bug Light, courtesy of Mother Nature and the amazing photographer Tracy Carroll!

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I welcome your thoughts and suggestions for future posts!

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