Some of the happiest places, nations and states

There are many reports out there that list the happiest places in the World and we thought we’d list some of the most popular ones. From nations to cities and states, there are certain places in the world that just seem happier. Why is this and what makes a happy place? Well maybe our listings can throw some light on that!

cornish beach
happy beach, happy days!

HAPPIEST NATIONS, TOP FIVE

What’s the secret to these happy countries – is it the location, environment, politics, culture, or just something in the water?

While we may never know the precise reasons, after compiling data from various resources like the Happy Planet Index, the World Happiness report, and Forbes’ list of happiest countries,

we can at least let you know what the 10 happiest countries in the world are.

Then, all that’s left for you to do is pack your bags, pick a country, and make your move.

COSTA RICA

Not only does Costa Rica abound with natural beauty, from the sandy beaches and ocean waters to the volcanoes and lush rainforests, but the people of this army-free country also report having one of the highest life satisfactions in the world. With a high life expectancy of 79.3 years, locals get to enjoy the pleasant living for years and years. It’s no wonder that their local saying, “pura vida”, loosely translates to “life is good”, if you have good health insurance for your trip there!

NORWAY

It’s not surprising that Norway tends to rank very high on world happiness reports – it’s one of the most prosperous countries in the world, has the 2nd highest level of satisfaction with standards of living, and three quarters of its residents report that they have more positive than negative experiences each day. The country is also one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth, with an abundance of fjords, glaciers, and mountains.

SWITZERLAND

Switzerland is simply stunning, with its towering snow-capped mountains, beautiful lakes, and environments that range from lush to frozen. Its people are also some of the happiest, with higher than average life expectancies, strong health rankings, plenty of community involvement, and great safety. Plus, in a place that’s known for its abundance of delectable chocolate, how could you ever be sad?

VIETNAM

According to several reports, Vietnam is the happiest country in all of Asia. Residents have a very high level of satisfaction with their life, enjoying the gorgeous beaches, green mountains, dramatic scenery, and mouthwatering regional cuisine.

AUSTRALIA

Don’t let all the sharks, snakes, and venomous spiders fool you – Australians are some of the happiest in the world. Not only do they live in one of the most adored spots on earth (who wouldn’t like sunny skies, coral reefs, and white sand beaches?), but they also rank high in many life-happiness categories; they have some of the highest scores for community engagement, health, environmental care, and employment.

Other countries that could have easily made our list include New Zealand, Finland, Sweden, Austria and Germany.

 

HAPPIEST U.S. STATES

Here is a list of the happiest U.S. states by most measures. It is interesting how the top two are not part of the 48!

Alaska
Hawaii
South Dakota
Wyoming
Montana

Why is Hawaii so popular when it is actually quites expensive?

Living in Hawaii and Housing Cost

To rent a place in Hawaii is significantly more expensive than in most places on the U.S. mainland. A studio on Oahu, for example, costs anywhere from $700-$1,200+ per month, depending on the location. A two-bedroom apartment or a house typically starts from $1,500 per month and up. Luxurious newly-built one-bedroom condos typically rent for $2,500 and up.

When looking at the average wage people make in Hawaii, it is clear that it falls far short of the average wage required to rent a two-bedroom apartment, according to 2013 data made available by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. The Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Hawaii is currently $1,671. To be able to afford this rent without paying more than 30% of income on housing, a household has to earn $5,571 per month or $66,853 per year.

On the other hand Alaska seems more affordable…

The cost of living in many cities throughout Alaska is affordable and is significantly less expensive than San Francisco, Honolulu, Manhattan and a handful of other U.S. cities.

The state’s best offerings are free

And that’s not all. Places like Anchorage and Fairbanks provide all the conveniences of large cities, but without the congestion and hassles. Commutes can be shorter, so you don’t need to burn a lot of gas. There are greenbelts and parks everywhere with access to dozens of activities for families: world-class fishing, skiing, snow machining, ice skating, sledding, hiking, biking and rafting are just a stone’s throw away. And taking advantage of them doesn’t require money for a plane ticket and hotel. Open spaces are right out your front door. In other words, the best parts of Alaska are completely free!

HAPPIEST CITIES ON EARTH – YOUR TOP FIVE

Copenhagen, Denmark

There’s something annoyingly amazing about the Danes. Just 5.5 million people live in a country half the size of Ireland, and yet they’ve managed to create some of the best welfare models, restaurants and TV shows on earth.

Florianopolis, Brazil

Where? Don’t worry, you wouldn’t be the first to ask. But readers of ‘Conde Nast Traveller’ recently voted Florianapolis the world’s friendliest city. Happy days: Brazil is enjoying a big couple of years, hosting the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016

Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne retains the crown of “most liveable” city in The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Livability Report for 2014. In plain English, that puts the Australian city top of the pile when it comes to stability, healthcare, culture, environment, education and infrastructure.

Vienna, Austria

Vienna occupies the No.1 spot on the Mercer Quality of Living Survey, ranking for several years now as global consulting companies’ top city (Zurich and Auckland followed as second and third)

Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver may have more Starbucks than soul, but it’s rarely absent from lists of the world’s happiest, most livable and beautiful cities. Most recently, it finished third behind Melbourne and Vienna on The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2014 Global Livability Report.

Uplifting news for a new year

Here at Good News Stories we like to bring the latest good news from around the World, here is a selection of uplifting news stories that we have come across in the last month. With help from Reddit’s Uplifting News.

DOG FINDS NEW HOME

A dog that was overlooked by 14,000 potential owners has found a home in County Durham, the Dogs Trust has said.

Jed, a seven-year-old lurcher, had been with the trust in Sadberge, Darlington, on-and-off since he was four months old.

After they saw an appeal on the BBC website, Jed was given a new home by Ian Woodcock and Elizabeth Marsh.

The couple said he was settling in “really well” with the family and they “absolutely adore him”.

The trust said he had been taken in by several families in the past but in each case, due to their circumstances changing, he had to be returned.

Jed now enjoys long walks on the moors, snoozing by the fire and helping Mr Woodcock with the gardening.

ANOTHER DOGGIE STORY FROM SEATTLE 

A black Labrador named Eclipse just wants to get to the dog park. So if her owner takes too long finishing his cigarette, and their bus arrives, she climbs aboard solo and rides to her stop – to the delight of fellow Seattle bus passengers.

KOMO-TV reports that local radio host Miles Montgomery was amazed to see the pooch get off the bus, without an owner, at a dog park last week.

The dog and her owner, Jeff Young, live right near a bus stop.

In Young’s words, “She’s a bus-riding, sidewalk-walking dog.” Young says his dog sometimes gets on the bus without him, and he catches up with her at the dog park three or four stops away.

Bus riders report she hops onto seats next to strangers, and watches out the window for her stop. Says commuter Tiona Rainwater, “All the bus drivers know her … she makes everybody happy.”

A Metro Transit spokesman says the agency loves that a dog appreciates public transit.

HARRY POTTER FANS HELP WITH CHILD SLAVERY FIGHT

Right before Christmas, Warner Bros. quietly gave “Harry Potter” fans what was, for some of them, a long-wished-for gift. In a letter to Andrew Slack, the founder of the Harry Potter Alliance, Joshua Berger, the company’s president for Harry Potter Global Franchise Development, announced, “By the end of 2015, and sooner when possible, all Harry Potter chocolate products sold at Warner Bros. outlets and through our licensed partners will be 100-percent UTZ or Fair Trade certified.”

It’s the sort of victory that, in the past, might have been the result of a pressure campaign by trade advocates or union groups, employing the language of globalization and living wages. But Warner Bros.’ commitment to new standards for cocoa production grew out of pressure from and dialogue with “Harry Potter” devotees who wanted to see the franchise live up to the ideals their fictional hero fought for. The win comes after four years of organizing. And it’s a fascinating symbol of what activism might look like when it’s animated by fiction rather than political parties and when fans form coalitions with devoted advocates.

When Slack and his co-creators founded the Harry Potter Alliance in 2005, they were animated by the idea that J.K. Rowling’s novels, inspired both by her own experiences with poverty and her work at Amnesty International, could be a powerful source of moral precepts and ideas about how to build a more just world. They made videos about Walmart, comparing the corporation to Voldemort, the “Harry Potter” novels’ totalitarian villain, and started a large book drive. But over time their ambitions grew, applying a similar approach to Suzanne Collins’s dystopian exploration of inequality, “The Hunger Games,” and considering how alliance members might be convinced to move from what Slack refers to as “charity and acts of service” to more direct advocacy.

“It’s all well and good to send the silver parachutes,” Slack told me in an interview last week, referring to the care packages that “Hunger Games” characters can send participants during televised fights to the death, “But the Games are still the Games.”

ARRESTED TEEN HELPS POLICE

Teenager Jamal Rutledge was being booked after his arrest when the officer processing him collapsed and clenched his chest in pain. Apparently, there were no hard feelings on Rutledge’s part, because he immediately did all he could to alert officers nearby.

He kicked the facility’s security fence to make noise and yelled out for help. Officers quickly responded by cutting off officer Franklin Foulks’ vest, performing CPR and using a defibrilator to stimulate Foulks’ heart.

Rutldege’s actions, back in September, helped save Foulks’ life. Now the Fort Lauderdale Police Department is honoring him and the other officers for their actions.

15Ways to being a happier person

Good News Stories is all about making you feel positive and we’d like to share some of that good energy with a few ways to be a happier person!

cornish beach
Go to the beach!

Don’t Worry, Choose Happy

The first step, however, is to make a conscious choice to boost your happiness. In his book, The Conquest of Happiness, published in 1930, the philosopher Bertrand Russell had this to say: “Happiness is not, except in very rare cases, something that drops into the mouth, like a ripe fruit. … Happiness must be, for most men and women, an achievement rather than a gift of the gods, and in this achievement, effort, both inward and outward, must play a great part.”

Today, psychologists who study happiness heartily agree. The intention to be happy is the first of The 9 Choices of Happy People listed by authors Rick Foster and Greg Hicks in their book of the same name.

“Intention is the active desire and commitment to be happy,” they write. “It’s the decision to consciously choose attitudes and behaviors that lead to happiness over unhappiness.”

Change and adapt.

Society is a changeable commodity. We need to change and adapt. If you sit too tightly on your chair, you will not be happy.

Not many things are certain in life, but two things are: We all will die; and more importantly, things will change. Your job won’t last forever, your kids will grow up, your house will age, and your spouse will change.

We all need to change and adapt. Take the opportunity to have fun with it. See it as a positive.

Foster Forgiveness

Holding a grudge and nursing grievances can affect physical as well as mental health, according to a rapidly growing body of research. One way to curtail these kinds of feelings is to foster forgiveness. This reduces the power of bad events to create bitterness and resentment, say Michael McCullough and Robert Emmons, happiness researchers who edited The Psychology of Happiness.

In his book, Five Steps to Forgiveness, clinical psychologist Everett Worthington Jr. offers a 5-step process he calls REACH. First, recall the hurt. Then empathize and try to understand the act from the perpetrator’s point of view. Be altruistic by recalling a time in your life when you were forgiven. Commit to putting your forgiveness into words. You can do this either in a letter to the person you’re forgiving or in your journal. Finally, try to hold on to the forgiveness. Don’t dwell on your anger, hurt, and desire for vengeance.

 

Do things for others

Caring about others is fundamental to our happiness. Helping other people is not only good for them; it’s good for us too. It makes us happier and can help to improve our health. Giving also creates stronger connections between people and helps to build a happier society for everyone. It’s not all about money – we can also give our time, ideas and energy. So if you want to feel good, do good.

Cultivate Gratitude

In his book, Authentic Happiness, University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman encourages readers to perform a daily “gratitude exercise.” It involves listing a few things that make them grateful. This shifts people away from bitterness and despair, he says, and promotes happiness.

Take care of your body

Our body and mind are connected. Being active makes us happier as well as healthier. It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of depression. We don’t all have to run marathons – there are simple things we can do to be more active each day. We can also boost our wellbeing by spending time outdoors, eating healthily, unplugging from technology and getting enough sleep. Ensure you have good medical and travel insurance over 85 too if you are holidaying abroad.

Counteract Negative Thoughts and Feelings

As Jon Haidt puts it, improve your mental hygiene. In The Happiness Hypothesis, Haidt compares the mind to a man riding an elephant. The elephant represents the powerful thoughts and feelings — mostly unconscious — that drive your behavior. The man, although much weaker, can exert control over the elephant, just as you can exert control over negative thoughts and feelings.

“The key is a commitment to doing the things necessary to retrain the elephant,” Haidt says. “And the evidence suggests there’s a lot you can do. It just takes work.”

For example, you can practice meditation, rhythmic breathing, yoga, or relaxation techniques to quell anxiety and promote serenity. You can learn to recognize and challenge thoughts you have about being inadequate and helpless.

Follow your dreams

I’m not talking about “a good job,” “a fine house” or “an okay life,” or, for that matter, taking up knitting, which you’ve dreamed about for years. I mean truly and utterly opening the channel to your inner core and seeing what you find. I mean doing what you really want to do with the rest of your life.

Impossible, you say? Well, I don’t mean quitting your job and jumping into the unknown. I mean, setting up a plan and some goals to start doing what you’ve always dreamed about, step-by-step if you like. And when you do, (wo)man will you glow.

Keep learning

Learning affects our wellbeing in lots of positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience. There are many ways to learn new things throughout our lives, not just through formal qualifications. We can share a skill with friends, join a club, learn to sing, play a new sport and so much more.

Think positively.

Our thoughts are so powerful that it rocks my soul at the core when I think about it. And yes, we’ve heard it all before. But we humans think so many negative thoughts every day, and it’s in this negative sphere that we live and breathe.

Can you sense the contaminated thought-air? I can. Well then, change it!

Foster Friendship

There are few better antidotes to unhappiness than close friendships with people who care about you, says David G. Myers, author of The Pursuit of Happiness. One Australian study found that people over 70 who had the strongest network of friends lived much longer.

“Sadly, our increasingly individualistic society suffers from impoverished social connections, which some psychologists believe is a cause of today’s epidemic levels of depression,” Myers writes. “The social ties that bind also provide support in difficult times.”

Find ways to bounce back

All of us have times of stress, loss, failure or trauma in our lives. How we respond to these events has a big impact on our wellbeing. We often cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we react to what happens. In practice it’s not always easy, but one of the most exciting findings from recent research is that resilience, like many other life skills, can be learned.

Be comfortable with who you are

Nobody’s perfect. But so often we compare a negative view of ourselves with an unrealistic view of other people. Dwelling on our flaws – what we’re not rather than what we’ve got – makes it much harder to be happy. Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our wellbeing. It also helps us accept others as they are.

Engage in Meaningful Activities

People are seldom happier, says psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, than when they’re in the “flow.” This is a state in which your mind becomes thoroughly absorbed in a meaningful task that challenges your abilities. Yet, he has found that the most common leisure time activity — watching TV — produces some of the lowest levels of happiness.

To get more out of life, we need to put more into it, says Csikszentmihalyi. “Active leisure that helps a person grow does not come easily,” he writes in Finding Flow. “Each of the flow-producing activities requires an initial investment of attention before it begins to be enjoyable.”

Be part of something bigger

People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression. But where do we find meaning and purpose? It might come from doing a job that makes a difference, our religious or spiritual beliefs, or our family. The answers vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves.

Sports Direct Lose out on England Football Flop

England’s laughable and inevitable early exit from the World Cup cost Sports Direct up to £20m in lost profits, the group said, as disappointed football fans failed to buy replica shirts.

Dave Forsey, chief executive, said Roy Hodgson boys’ lacklustre performance was much more significant to the business than a dispute with Adidas which meant Sports Direct could not stock replicas of the on-field strips of key teams, including the winner Germany and runners-up Argentina. The brand has pulled stock from a number of different retailers, because it was unhappy at the presentation of goods or customer service.

“England’s early exit meant a £10m to £20m swing to [underlying profits],” he said. “It’s all about England for the World Cup for our stores. What affects sales primarily will always be how long England lasts in the tournament.”

While Sports Direct revealed a healthy 15.6% rise in pretax profits to £239.5m on sales of £2.7bn, up 23.8% in the year to 27 April, driven by strong sales of sportswear as well as the acquisition of fashion chain Republic, Forsey said performance would have been better if the national team had hit the back of the net more often.

However, Forsey said Sports Direct was hopeful of stocking the key Adidas football strips it wants, including Premier League team Chelsea’s after “encouraging discussions” with the sports brand which stopped supplying certain strips to Sports Direct earlier this year. Forsey was not able to confirm if and when Adidas might begin supply but he said:”Top-level engagement has been encouraging for the last couple of weeks and both teams see opportunities for their side.”

Sports Direct is also seeking a rapprochement with shareholders after a bruising battle over the bonus scheme which would have significantly benefited the chain’s founder, Mike Ashley. On Wednesday, the company said Ashley had chosen to withdraw from the scheme, just two weeks after it had been approved. The move was widely welcomed by major institutional shareholders who felt the bonus arrangements were inappropriately structured.

They want Ashley, who owns a 58% stake in the company but does not receive any pay for his role as executive deputy chairman, to be rewarded by a salary or a dividend that would benefit all investors. Shareholders had threatened to vote against the re-election of the chairman Keith Hellawell and some non-executive directors, but Forsey said their protests had not affected Ashley’s decision.

8 Ways to be happier!

cornish beach
beach time!

We all want to be happier don’t we? Here at Good News Stories we have uncovered eight ways to be happier 🙂

1. Buy some happiness. Our basic psychological needs include feeling loved, secure, and good at what we do. You also want to have a sense of control. Money doesn’t automatically fill these requirements, but it sure can help. I’ve learned to look for ways to spend money to stay in closer contact with my family and friends; to promote my health; to work more efficiently; to eliminate sources of irritation and marital conflict; to support important causes; and to have enlarging experiences. For example, when my sister got married, I splurged on a better digital camera. It was expensive, but it gave me a lot of happiness.

2. Don’t insist on the best. There are two types of decision makers. Satisficers (yes, satisficers) make a decision once their criteria are met. When they find the hotel or the pasta sauce that has the qualities they want, they’re satisfied. Maximizers want to make the best possible decision. Even if they see a bicycle or a backpack that meets their requirements, they can’t make a decision until they’ve examined every option. Satisficers tend to be happier than maximizers. Maximizers expend more time and energy reaching decisions, and they’re often anxious about their choices. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

3. Exercise to boost energy. I knew, intellectually, that this worked, but how often have I told myself, “I’m just too tired to go to the gym”? Exercise is one of the most dependable mood-boosters. Even a 10-minute walk can brighten my outlook.

4. Stop nagging. I knew my nagging wasn’t working particularly well, but I figured that if I stopped, my husband would never do a thing around the house. Wrong. If anything, more work got done. Plus, I got a surprisingly big happiness boost from quitting nagging. I hadn’t realized how shrewish and angry I had felt as a result of speaking like that. I replaced nagging with the following persuasive tools: wordless hints (for example, leaving a new lightbulb on the counter); using just one word (saying “Milk!” instead of talking on and on); not insisting that something be done on my schedule; and, most effective of all, doing a task myself. Why did I get to set the assignments?
5. Take action. Some people assume happiness is mostly a matter of inborn temperament: You’re born an Eeyore or a Tigger, and that’s that. Although it’s true that genetics play a big role, about 40 percent of your happiness level is within your control. Taking time to reflect, and making conscious steps to make your life happier, really does work. So use these tips to start your own Happiness Project. I promise it won’t take you a whole year.

6. Jon Haidt, author of The Happiness Hypothesis, teaches positive psychology. He actually assigns his students to make themselves happier during the semester.

“They have to say exactly what technique they will use,” says Haidt, a professor at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville. “They may choose to be more forgiving or more grateful. They may learn to identify negative thoughts so they can challenge them. For example, when someone crosses you, in your mind you build a case against that person, but that’s very damaging to relationships. So they may learn to shut up their inner lawyer and stop building these cases against people.”

Once you’ve decided to be happier, you can choose strategies for achieving happiness. Psychologists who study happiness tend to agree on ones like these.

7. Cultivate Gratitude

In his book, Authentic Happiness, University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman encourages readers to perform a daily “gratitude exercise.” It involves listing a few things that make them grateful. This shifts people away from bitterness and despair, he says, and promotes happiness.

8. Foster Forgiveness

Holding a grudge and nursing grievances can affect physical as well as mental health, according to a rapidly growing body of research. One way to curtail these kinds of feelings is to foster forgiveness. This reduces the power of bad events to create bitterness and resentment, say Michael McCullough and Robert Emmons, happiness researchers who edited The Psychology of Happiness.