First insights from a global search for happiness | Happy Insights
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First insights from a global search for happiness

First insights from a global search for happiness

With our record of 5 countries and 4 continents in a month, we’re confident to say Happiness around the Globe really hit the road. A combination of Jungle, Wildlife, and Noodle soup! In this first month, we’ve already collected inspiring and touching stories, such as Stevie in Kenya who is doing a great job in uniting Kenyans. Or Jasmine from Nicaragua, who sees happiness as simply being friendly. The search for happiness is on!

We’ve summed up our insights gathered in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Kenya!

Wait. What is Happiness around the Globe?

Through an inspiring journey across the globe, Tjerk and Alissa are on a mission to make the world a little happier. Not by telling people how to be happy, but by motivating them to discover what happiness means to themselves. We aim to discover the world’s best-kept secrets on happiness.

To answer these questions, we are traveling to 25 of the happiest countries in the world. We don’t simply visit the 25 countries ranked highest on one happiness index (such as world happiness index or happy planet index), but selected the 25 countries based on multiple indices, scientific research, recommendations and “a good portion of gut feeling”. We don’t claim to obtain scientific statistics or academically proven theories, but “just want to collect personal stories behind the numbers and gather unique definitions of happiness”. Find out more about the project.

Costa Rica’s pure lifestyle. 

Whereas we’ve already discovered many incredible places in Costa Rica (thanks to the people we’ve met), it’s the place called black hole of Happiness that made a huge impact on us.

The laid-back surfers we’ve met on the beach in Samara, a little surfer town called the black hole of happiness, don’t even need to use a lot of words to express Pura Vida. It’s the way they look, smile, walk and seem to be one with the ocean. Our surf instructor Joel understands why Costa Rica is reported as one of the happiest countries and says “it’s simply because the people here choose not to worry too much”.

His country is not only Latin America’s happiest; it’s also where people report feeling more day-to-day positive emotions than just about any other place in the world.

And it’s this same black hole of happiness that inhabits some of the world’s oldest citizens.

Living in the black hole of happiness which is also one of the five blue zones 

We expected to see a village full of elderly people stumbling around the street, yet the opposite occurred. It’s a vivid city where indeed many people are on the streets, but none of them seem to be stumbling nor have an elderly appearance. It’s only later we find out that it’s just incredibly hard to guess ages of these .

Giselle: “My grandma is 99, and very alive. Most people become more than 100”. She said that without any emotion or awareness of the fact that this doesn’t apply for almost every other place on earth.

“They say it’s because of the water. I think it’s also because we are used to working and continuing to work. We don’t stop doing the garden for example. We find our medicines in our own garden.

The same goes for our food, we eat most of it directly from our garden. We don’t eat all the new food like hamburgers or fried food”. We immediately wonder how this relates to the new , a chicken fast food restaurant in the midst of Samara. Before we got the chance to ask her, she added: “Unfortunately the younger generations are interested in this new type of ‘food’…”.

To find out more about the country with consistent high happiness scores, being the first on the HPI, and why we expected our search in this country to be a piece of cake, click here.

Great lessons learned in Nicaragua. 

Nicaragua has the highest increase in Happiness score, and we completely understand why. With beautiful colonial cities as Granada, jungle, Volcanos (2!) and ice cold Tonas on island Ometepe and excellent surfer waves at the Pacific coast, it’s about as diverse as it can get. So even though this destination is less known to many tourists, it is one worth visiting!

One of the most important ingredients for happiness in Nicaragua is without a doubt their relaxed attitude. Not only the locals but the foreigners also quickly found out how to adapt to the locals’ lifestyle. We’ve met quite a few expats who started a new life in Nicaragua. Most of them explain to us that it’s the mindset and lifestyle that convinced them to relocate. For them, Nicaragua is really a community-based environment where people enjoy life just the way it is: “Something I’ve missed in all European cities I’ve lived”.

It feels like you can step back in a time machine to a period where material possessions didn’t make people happy, but people did. It’s about appreciating the little things in life. The things we often overlook in our Western life.

And the second important feature of happiness in Nicaragua is without a doubt the social ties between family members and friends. Whether you’re in trouble, want to have fun or need a little help, everyone has loved-ones around them whom he or she can count on. Even if it’s just to have a small chat or share some food.

And there is one thing they all explicitly mention as part of their happiness, which has something to do with rice and beans…

The happiness lesson of the Lion King.

In a country ranked in the bottom 30 of the world happiness index, it requires more caution and sensitivity to be able to define happiness. The fact that they prefer to drink their beer warm is one thing that surprised us. Yet it is their attitude towards life, and more importantly, towards others that we are most impressed by.

Whereas their approach to be one community is something worth reading about, it’s the two-worded mantra, famous because of the Lion King, that is the ultimate key to happiness in Kenya: Hakuna Matata.

It’s a phrase that when said out loud it could be done as a cheerful yell, but also as a relaxed singer-songwriter lyric.

Simply said, Hakuna Matata is a concept used to express the lifestyle of not worrying too much. Be .

When people pronounce Hakuna Matata, they are very serious about it. They strongly encourage you not to worry. Yet they say it with a big smile and gentle tone: like they absolutely mean what they say but don’t want you to worry about doing what they tell you to do.

When you receive a Hakuna Matata, they wish you a nice life, hope that you’re doing well, that you aren’t stressed. It’s like a little gift wrapped in two powerful words.

What’s next?

So far, we consider ourselves extremely grateful for all the insights, lessons and wonderful people we’ve met. Right now we are in the midst of exploring Asia, including the Asian  before we go down under!

As always, wishing you lots of joy and Happiness and if you have any recommendations or connections please let us know!


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