Happiness is a very individual thing. What makes you happy might depress another person or, even worse, leave them feeling indifferent.
Of course, this doesn’t stop people from trying to rank happiness and something called GoBankingRates crunched the numbers and came up with the 15 happiest places (countries) on Earth. Before you get puffed up with pride, the United States didn’t make the top 15.
We came in at 18. I know. You demand a recount! After all, so many people want to come here that it’s the main thing we continually fight about! But I think it’s time we admit that’s more of a circumstance of convenience than us being a shining beacon on a hill. It’d be hard to swim to Finland, which, by the way, is the happiest country on Earth.
GoBankingRates found that Americans have an average income of $46,467, which means the average household with two working adults has an income of nearly $100,000 a year, which is going to be a real shock to most people I know.
We also have a low unemployment rate, but the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,199. I’m pretty sure if you applied that money to a mortgage, you could get a two-story house, though it wouldn’t be next to a lake.
The United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but its people are indeed unhappy, maybe finally answering the question of whether or not money can buy happiness. The study by GoBankingRates said gun violence and the current political climate leave a lot of people feeling the blues, though the study said we don’t rank in the top 30 in gun violence, and we aren’t in the top 100 for homicide rates.
One of the editors of the report said untreated depression, obesity and substance abuse are the three main reasons we’re so unhappy with our lot in life. Depression is its own animal and each person has to handle it in his or her own way, but obesity and drug addiction, for the most part, are things we bring on ourselves.
What are the 15 happiest countries in the world? Well, I’m glad you asked. Here they are, from 15 to 1:
13. Costa Rica
8. New Zealand
And the aforementioned:
I know, I had the same question. Costa Rica is a country? I thought that was a beach resort somewhere that people who handled high school better than you went for vacation twice a year?
What makes Finland so great? Well, their average income, $50,098, is slightly higher than ours and their political climate is nowhere near as hostile as ours. They also have a tax rate of 30.8 percent and the sun doesn’t even come out for 51 days a year. Yet, they’re motoring along happily, not concerned at all that countries with bad tempers possess weapons that could ruin everyone’s day.
What can we do to make ourselves happy? Get a lot of money? Find true love? Do that magical thing that makes us feel like we’ve never worked a day in our lives?
I always think of an old Kurt Vonnegut quote when asked about happiness: “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” Like most of Vonnegut’s writings, you can make what you will of the quote. I tend to think it describes what we’re all seeking to make us happy. Nothing but beauty filling our eyes and neither physical or emotional pain making us slide down.
Or maybe a new car would put you over the edge. No matter what trips your happy meter, never stop seeking it. After all, you’re the one living your life. As long as it doesn’t hurt anybody, go for it. Of course, what makes most of us happy usually involves other people, and they never want to participate.
And remember, if all else fails, there’s always Finland.