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Five Things to Know About Happiness Around the World
A life coach will help you set goals that make _you happy, rather than just assuming you want money, fame, and an infinity pool overlooking a bigger infinity pool. Read on to learn how your culture might affect your definition of happiness._
1. Depending on where you live, your happiness might not have much to do with you. In cultures that tend to cherish individualism (including much of Europe and the U.S.), researchers have found a strong correlation between self-esteem and reported happiness. But that relationship is less strong in East Asian countries, where definitions of happiness have traditionally centered more around social harmony and connection than personal achievement.
2. Happiness might not supply the meaning of life. A 2014 study by psychologists Shigehiro Oishi and Ed Diener found that, as expected, people’s happiness levels tended to increase with the wealth of their home countries. But, people in poorer nations rated their lives as meaningful far more often than in rich ones, possibly because poorer nations also tended to more highly value religion, social connection, and children per family—all common sources of personal meaning.
3. In some places, acting happy is cause for concern. Iran has an especially strong tradition of folk wisdom advising against discussing or displaying one’s good fortune, lest it attract a covetous “evil eye” that will work to destroy it. The roots of this philosophy can even be traced to stories in the Koran.
4. If you’re headed to Panama, pack a smile. According to a 2014 Gallup–Healthway Global poll covering 135 countries, the world’s happiest people live in Panama. More than 50% of Panamanian respondents reported themselves as “thriving” in purpose and in social, financial, and community well-being. In an interview with the Guardian, cultural attaché to Panama Laura Montenegro chalked up the country’s positive mindset to its loneliness-preventing sense of family and tradition.
5. But Bhutan might be the most happiness-minded nation of all. Rather than judging progress solely through gross national product, Bhutan’s leaders take the nation’s pulse by measuring gross national happiness. That’s resulted in policies as small as introducing meditation into the schools and as large as major conservation efforts to protect the mountainous country’s natural splendor.