The results are in: the top three happiest countries are (drumroll, please) Denmark, Switzerland, and Iceland, according to the 2016 World Happiness Report. The U.S. doesn’t appear until farther down the list, in the no. 13 spot. So of course, we immediately wanted to know: What are the secrets to bliss in those top-ranked nations?
“None of these happy places do just one thing,” says National Geographic Fellow Dan Buettner, who wrote a book about some of the world’s happiest populations called Thrive . It’s really about their everyday mindset and activities, he says. Here, Buettner points to four joy-inducing habits we can steal from the Danes, Swiss, and Icelanders.
They focus on staying active—not exercising
Cities in Denmark and Switzerland are all very walkable and bikeable, says Buettner. In fact, in Denmark’s capital of Copenhagen, 50% of people commute by bike every day, according to the government. “In places where people are happy, they’re getting what we call non-exercise physical activity,” he says. “They don’t call it exercise. They say they’re going to the market, to work, or out with friends and hopping on their bike to get there.” While hitting the gym is great if it’s something you love, incorporating more movement into your everyday life could be key to upping your happiness quotient.
They appreciate the beauty of nature
“Green spaces and happiness are strongly linked,” says Buettner. Research shows that walking in nature can decrease anxiety and worry, as well as boost your cognitive abilities. But getting outdoors doesn’t have to mean getting in your car and driving an hour to a secluded trailhead. Simply strolling through a local park can perk you up. “These healthy everyday habits have to be easy and seamless to fit into your life, otherwise you’re not going to do them,” Buettner says.
(To be continued…)
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