6 Habits Of People Who Live In The World’s Happiest Countries
If there is one thing many people have in common, it's that they just want to be happy. We all have different ideas of what we believe will bring us joy, but it turns out people in certain places might have a better idea than others. There are a number of habits people who live in the world's happiest countries have in common, and emulating what they are doing might help you reach greater satisfaction in life on your own. When it comes to happiness, there are a few common factors to attain it, including social connections, health, and certain attitudes about life.
According to the 2018 World Happiness report, which is released by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, some of the happiest countries include Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. The United States didn't exactly make it close to the top of the list. Instead, it came in at 18th. Other countries that fall in the top 10 include Sweden, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
Even though we all come from different backgrounds and have different interests, there are just some habits that universally make us feel better. Here are six habits of people who live in the world's happiest countries.
1. They Take Vacations
Work is important for people's wellbeing — but in happy countries, they utilize time off. "In Nordic countries, it is expected that workers use their vacation, and they are offered several weeks of it each year," Jennifer Sweeton, Psy.D., M.S., M.A, tells Bustle. "These vacations allow people to spend more quality time with family, get out of the daily grind to reconnect with hobbies and interests, and encourage people to live a life consistent with values other than just work."
2. They Walk Or Bike To Work
People in the happiest countries tend to be active without looking at their exercise as a chore. "It is not uncommon for people in Nordic countries to bike to work — or walk — instead of driving," says Sweeton. "Exercise has been shown to have many benefits, including reducing depression and anxiety symptoms even when not combined with therapy or psychiatric medications."
3. They Follow A Mediterranean Diet
Diet plays a role in mental health, and countries that rank high in happiness tend to eat a certain way, particularly the Mediterranean Diet. "Lots of fish and nuts and a good olive oil seem to go a long way towards boosting your mood and preventing Alzheimer’s disease," Dr. Alan Schlechter, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Health, tells Bustle.
4. They Have Work-Life Balance
People in happy countries also make time for hobbies they enjoy. "By adulthood, most people report the majority of the activities that used to bring them joy as young adults (a sport, some passion outside of work) are just a memory," says Dr. Schlechter. "It takes a lot of effort to organize but is essential to our well-being. With your free time, do the things that invigorate you."
5. They Spend Time With Friends & Family
In many of these countries, time spent with others is prioritized, whether it's sitting and lounging at a coffee shop or regularly sharing meals with family. "As Americans, our 'connection' with friends is often limited to texting and social media," neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez tells Bustle. "In other countries, visiting friends at their homes for dinner or drinks is more common. It is the face-to-face contact and connection that enriches people."
6. They Trust Others
Relationships are important to happiness, and several surveys have found that the majority of people living in these countries report believing that others are trustworthy. "Believing in others' goodness and trustworthiness strengthens social relationships and may be one reason that social support is also found to be high in these countries," says Sweeton. "Interestingly, high perceived social support has been found to be a protective factor against mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression."
You don't have to pick up and move to improve your happiness. Instead, adopt some of these habits of people in the world's happiest countries.