Costa Rica, once more is the happiest country in the World according to Happy Planet Index (http://www.happyplanetindex.org/data/).
This index uses global data on life expectancy, experienced well-being and Ecological Footprint.
Each of these components is based on a separate measure:
If you want to know how well someone’s life is going, your best bet is to ask them directly. In this year’s HPI, experienced well-being is assessed using a question called the ‘Ladder of Life’ from the Gallup World Poll. This asks respondents to imagine a ladder, where 0 represents the worst possible life and 10 the best possible life, and report the step of the ladder they feel they currently stand on.
Alongside experienced well-being, the HPI includes a universally important measure of health – life expectancy. They used life expectancy data from the 2011 UNDP Human Development Report
The HPI uses the Ecological Footprint promoted by the environmental charity WWF as a measure of resource consumption. It is a per capita measure of the amount of land required to sustain a country’s consumption patterns, measured in terms of global hectares (g ha) which represent a hectare of land with average productive biocapacity.
So, to make a long story short, the HPI asks the countries “What’s the cost of your happiness levels?” In the developed countries you will find that the “Experienced Well-being” is pretty high, actually higher than Costa Rica’s, but the cost of that happiness to the planet (Ecological Footprint) can be as high or higher! So, yes, you are happy, but the planet is suffering the consequences of your happiness.
Now, does that really makes a difference regarding the travel business? Do visitors to Costa Rica notice if they are in country #1 or in country #50 of the Happy Planet Index? Well! Actually yes.
It makes a difference.
But let’s go first to an event that made this index possible: The abolition of the military in Costa Rica, an event that happened in 1948 and that the country never regretted (As you can see in this article).
Costa Rica abolishes the army in a bold, crazy and impressively wise move. And decides to put the military budget in education and health mainly.
Education lead to conservation of our resources and sustainable progress. Health leads to a longer and more satisfactory life expectancy.
But there is something else that goes beyond our contemporary history and into the colonial days: Costa Rica was very isolated. From everything. It was poor and remote. It was a bubble, surviving from their own resources, our great grandparents learned to live with the minimum. They learned to be solidary with their neighbor and learned that a simple life can lead to a peaceful life.
Peace became the highest goal since then. No false pretenses. No need to show off.
Now, if you put those two together… You will understand a bit the Costa Rican way of doing things.
There is a national symbol that summarizes the Costa Rican culture in many ways: Having so many exotic colorful birds our national bird is the clay-colored robin. A beautiful call from a simple looking bird.
So mainly, what we are seeing here is a country that learned to be happy dedicating time to social connectedness, healthy foods, solidarity and less needs.
We are focused in our country’s motto: “Pura Vida”. Pure Life. We are focused in life at its purest state. No artificial ingredients. Just the essence.
We are richer because our needs are smaller. We are happier and healthier because we are in peace.
Because somehow in this humble search for peace, we found happiness is actually an inner deep condition, that goes beyond possesions or consumism.
And so, when visitors come and go beyond their luxurious hotel grounds and into the Costa Ricans, what they will find is an honest and healthy human smile framed by gorgeous landscapes. And they can tell that the good will and joy are everywhere… And well! You know what happens with happiness right?… Yes! It is contagious!
And when you are on vacation traveling abroad, you never wake up saying “I am going to have a miserable day today!” For human beings, there is an uncontrollable, natural and yet deep craving for happiness… and this need gets answered in a trip to Costa Rica.
And that is why, for many of us, traveling changes lives.
Happy Planet Index: http://www.happyplanetindex.org/about/#sthash.PTXHfOnE.dpuf