It’s no secret that where you live—or are temporarily located—contributes to your overall wellbeing. And while there may seem to be a lot of negative news out there these days, there are plenty of positive places in the world. The annual World Happiness Report published and researched by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, an initiative started by the United Nations to help countries find a better way of wellbeing, highlights the most cheerful countries, some of which have even appointed Ministers of Happiness.
But how does one determine a country's "happiness status"? According to Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and special adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General, “Happy countries are the ones that have a healthy balance of prosperity, as conventionally measured, and social capital, meaning a high degree of trust in a society, low inequality, and confidence in government.”
So, next time you’re in need of a mood boost, book a flight to an area you know breeds friendly people and is full of sensational sights. We rounded up some of the world’s happiest islands, countries, and cities for a smorgasbord of smiles. Find your happy place below.
Norway was named the world's happiest country by the 2017 World Happiness Report. Norwegians are a cheery and content bunch. The main factors that contribute to the country’s happiness: “caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance.” It doesn’t hurt that the country’s natural beauty, which includes mountains, forests, and fjords, is also kept in pristine condition. Should we all just move to Norway? Probably.
It's hard to have the blues in a sea of cherry blossoms. If you need a dose of positivity, try forest bathing (aka taking a leisurely hike) in Kyoto, Japan. Flowers have been shown to reduce anxiety and put people in a more positive psychological state. Cherry blossom viewings, known to natives as Hanami, take place in Kyoto in late March through early April.
Peace on earth is a lofty goal, but according to the Telegraph, this nation has been rated as the most peaceful in the world. It also rounded out the top four of the World’s Happiest Report, thanks to its social foundation and sensational scenery. The Dalai Lama, among others, agrees.
Photo: Thimphu, Bhutan / leezsnow
With a prime minister who suggested World Happiness Day to the United Nations, Bhutan knows the importance of happiness. The tiny Himalayan kingdom is said to be one of the happiest place on Earth. With a focus on their Gross National Happiness, the Bhutanese people are carefree and proud. (Try not to smile looking at the nation’s adorable Dragon Prince.) Plus, the natural surroundings don’t hurt, with hiking trails, beautiful valleys, and historic temples at every sight. It’s hard not to be grateful to live in such a gorgeous spot.
People are beaming in Boulder. This city appears as the No. 1 Happiest City in the United States on many published lists. Regarded as a wellness mecca, the sheer beauty of its natural surroundings and the community spirit contributes to an ideal place to live and work.
Sudbury Ontario, Canada
A small Canadian town with 330 lakes, Sudbury Ontario is the happiest city in Canada. Residents of Sudbury have short commutes to work, a stunning skyline, and huge public art displays that read “You Are Beautiful.” Smiles ensue.
Who wouldn’t be optimistic in a country known for its surf, lush tropical landscape, and yoga retreats in virtually every village or town? This beautiful Central American destination even has the accolades of being number one on the Happy Planet Index.
Another Nordic country to receive distinction as having an incredibly high Happiness Index rating is Denmark. Highlights include its focus on gender equality, an excellent healthcare system, as well as government supported parental support and childcare, according to the Huffington Post. The country is calm, clean, and welcoming. Also nice? The extraordinary seafood.
Yearning for some rest and relaxation on a breezy beach? Easy. Board a jet to the tropical paradise of Aruba. Known as having a very happy population, as well as serene natural beauty, it lives up to its Travel Bureau tagline as being “One Happy Island.” Think year-round sunshine, awe-inspiring landscapes, and beaches rated among the best in the world.