There’s that popular expression: you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. We know this to be inherently true, as our environment affects us on so many levels.
What if we could treat countries the same way? That if we “surrounded” ourselves with the five best countries in the world, we’d become even better humans?
Anyone who’s already gone down the bumpy, scenic road of self-discovery has considered finding and moving to the “perfect country” for ultimate happiness and health. It only takes a few Google searches to realize that no such country exists.
Thinking our overall health and well-being can be dependent on where we live is a trap we should all be very wary of. That’s how people get stuck thinking they’ll never have the life they want as long as they’re “here” (wherever here is).
Happiness is sourced from the inside and radiates outward, not the other way around.
But what if we could somehow get the best of the whole world into our individual lives – wherever that may be? It can be useful to take a look at the countries in the world which have consistently ranked highest in global health and happy living indexes. We can them use them as examples to reflect on how to create these same benefits in our own lives on a smaller scale.
1. Italy – Health
With Italian food basically being synonymous for pizza and pasta to most people, I didn’t quite expect this one either. As it turns out, Italians have the healthiest diets in the world, with their authentic cuisine being rich in vegetables and extra virgin olive oil, and heavily made up of locally-accessible fresh produce, fruit, lean meats, and fish.
Iceland is a very close second considering its citizens’ active and outdoorsy lifestyle, their promotion of physical activities in schools and public centres, and their diets that are largely made of fresh seafood and free-range meat.
Translated into our own individual lives, this isn’t news to anyone: we must be consciously healthy. We have to focus more on physical fitness and outdoor activities and incorporate more fresh produce and meats into our diets. And while we’re on the topic of monitoring what we let into our bodies, we should start moderating our alcohol and caffeine consumption, and significantly decrease (if not completely stop) smoking.
Happy minds come wrapped in healthy bodies.
2. Argentina – Fun
Argentina can party!
In both quantity and quality, Argentinians have come in on top with the most amount of fun had. Badoo, a popular dating app with nearly 17 million users, recently asked 17,000 people in 17 countries: “How often do you really have fun (such as when going out socially or seeing friends)?” Argentinians reported having an average of 15 days of fun per month. That’s every other day!
Take it from the Argentinians: often times, the best way to start having fun … is to just start having fun! They know that it’s not so much about what they decide to do for fun, but it’s about focusing on being in the moment and making a habit out of it.
Momentary joy is addictive. Focus on quality, and quantity will follow.
3. Iceland – Peace
For the sixth year in a row, Iceland has won the sought-after title of the most peaceful country in the world. This classification is based on its levels of democracy, equality, perceived freedom, safety, and low incarceration.
While the rest of the world, unfortunately, hasn’t been able to catch up with Iceland’s progressive peace, we can individually aim to surround ourselves with elements that build a peaceful circle around us. From choosing to gel with people who are both physically and emotionally safe for us, to adopting an appetite for diversity and inclusion, we can still create a life of peacefulness for ourselves that contributes to our overall health and well-being.
4. Finland – Education
About 40 years ago, Finland implemented huge education reforms that went completely against the evaluation-driven, centralized model of learning. Compared to other systems, students rarely take exams or do homework until they are well into their teens.
Since then, the national Finnish school system has consistently come at the top for the international rankings of education systems. Finns hold the highest percentages of high school and college graduation rates in the world, at 93% and 66%, respectively.
If Finland’s 40-year-old education experiment can teach us anything, it’s that learning doesn’t happen best through cramming for tests. This means great news for all of us because this proves you don’t have to constantly be in school to be growing intellectually. Not having the time or money to get a new degree is no longer an excuse.
Whether it’s art history, quantum physics, kinesiology, or how to plant avocados in your backyard, find something you’re interested in and decide to go all in. Become somewhat of an expert in it, simply because you choose to be.
We are curious beings by nature, and constantly learning new things. The world we live in allows us to feel well connected and in-the-loop in this experiment called life.
5. Myanmar – Compassion
To show compassion is to consciously shift our perspectives to see someone else’s side of things with genuine intentions of sympathising with their struggles. That’s one of the most powerful proactive mental and emotional strengthening exercises.
Myanmar shows the highest levels of compassion, with 91% of Burmese reportedly giving money to charity in 2016. They have ranked highest in the world for charity-giving, which is evidence of their generous hearts.
It’s no secret that life is already busy as it is, but it’s still important to make sure we don’t forget to contribute time, energy, skills, and money to the causes we care about. And while charity-giving and volunteering might be the clearest way to measure a country’s compassion, it’s certainly not the only ways to practice it.
Simply focusing our day-to-day energy in putting ourselves in others’ shoes can do wonders for our own mental health and self-awareness, inevitably making us happier beings.
So, bring your five best mates on a quest to these countries in the world, and I suspect you’ll be the happiest you’ve ever been. Who would you bring with you? Where would go first? Have a different best country in mind? Let us know on our Facebook page.