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The happy planet index, or HPI, is an index that determines a measure of happiness, per nation, based on environmental impact and well-being. What does it mean to be in the happy planet index? It doesn’t necessarily mean that the highest scoring country has the happiest people, or that by moving to that country you’ll be happy (that’s ultimately up to you). What it does show is how the efficiency with which a nation converts their share of the planet’s resources into longer and happier lives for their citizens.
What does the Happy Planet Index Tell Us?
The Happy Planet Index data show us that we still have a ways to go before achieving a sound level of happiness for the average nation. From the map, you’ll note that:
- The United States, not surprisingly, has a ways to go to achieve happiness for the average citizen, as they are currently ranked in the worst category. Sad, considering the motto our founding fathers wanted us to live by – giving each of our citizens the ability for freedom and the pursuit of happiness.
- Central America has some of the highest happiness scores globally. Particularly high are Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.
Developed Nation Does Not Necessarily Equal Happiness
Just because a nation prospers economically, doesn’t mean it will rank high on the happiness index. Think about all the stress a high paying job creates, and all the environmental waste that ensues from a prosperous, industrious nation, and you can begin to see how sometimes, simple is better. In some of the less developed nations that rank higher, such as Bosnia and Burma, you’ll notice that sometimes a simpler way of life can lead to greater happiness. Countries such as Vietnam and Laos, where farming and crop production are staples of industry, you’ll see people leading a life that, not short of hard labor, is not marked by as much psychological and emotional stress that you may find in the life of an investment banker, politician, neuro scientist, or other high intensity job typical to a first world country.
Live a Simple Life
Another way to think about it is where people typically go on vacation. The stereotypical, idyllic vacation destination is almost always somewhere in nature that is largely untouched by man – a quiet beach, tropical island, or lush jungle/ wilderness setting are on the top of the list. What does this say? In this crazy, fast-paced hectic and industrious life style that many of us Westerners lead, many seek peace, quietness, and nature. In other words, a more simple and laid back form of existence. The sad thing is, in a society that has been built on industry and technology, it’s hard to survive or make enough money to “fit in” to society and survive on the basis of simpler means. But here at Earth’s Friends, we’ll do our best to bring you insight and inspiration into living in harmony, and happiness, with nature and planet earth.