Happy is as happy does

Did you know there is a Happy Planet Index, (HPI)? It multiplies the subjective life satisfaction and the life expectancy of a country, and then divides it by the country’s ecological footprint. The first HPI was published, the second one in 2009.

In 2009 Costa Rica was #1 of the 143 countries reviewed. (It still is!) Their medium level of environmental impact, very high well-being and high life expectancy levels keep them at the top of the Happy Planet Index. (Their life expectancy is better than ours!)

Back in 2009, the US was #114. (Today it is 105 – that’s progress!); in 2009, Macedonia was 111. Unfortunately, their rank is dropping, it is now 127. (I lived in Macedonia for three years, have been back each year since 2009, and consider it one of my three homes.) I also lived in the Republic of Georgia for almost four months, and fell in love with folks there, and I’m thrilled to say their latest rank is rank is #55, and reflects “a relatively high life expectancy, low levels of experienced well-being, and a low ecological footprint.” Way to go Georgia! Happy is as happy does.

The HPI folks have set a target for nations to aspire to a score of 89 of 100 by 2050; “the highest HPI score is only 76.1, scored by Costa Rica.” (And, that was in 2009, it is lower now, but still higher than everyone else’s.)

Yup, we have a way to go, but I have no doubt we will get there both as a country and a planet because the topics of happiness and well-being are becoming mainstream and other positive indicators are getting attention throughout the world.

I’ve posted about Gross National Happiness (GNH) in the past. The King of Bhutan started that score rolling in 1972, when he decided that GNP, Gross National Product, a very commercial way of  looking at a country’s success, wasn’t the only way he wanted to assess his country’s viability. I like that. Here’s a new video that explains how Bhutan developed it’s GNH, and what happened after it did, including a 19 year increase in longevity and a 50% increase in literacy.

Did you know Australia, Britain, and China along with other major countries are developing new ways to assess their countries well-being? They, too, agree that GDP alone, is not the best indicator of how well their nations are doing. They’re putting time and money into well-being research, conferences and programs, which is good because even though household income for Americans has risen dramatically since the 1950’s, our happiness levels have remained relatively the same. Study after study shows that money is not the best indicator of happiness.

Would you like a free, quick and guaranteed way to raise your happiness level this week? Starting today, think about one thing you could do each day to make someone else happy, and then do it! Happy is as happy does.

Focusing your attention on finding ways to put a smile on the faces of your spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, children, neighbors, coworkers, friends and strangers will make you happier, too. We are social creatures and innately enjoy being connected to one another; by focusing your attention on others you can reinforce those bonds and bring depth and stability to your life and the lives of those around you. In fact, simply thinking about what you would like to do for someone or making yourself more aware of others and their feelings, can raise your happiness levels and mood because it takes your attention off yourself and your worries.

As you begin your happiness-raising week, remember it is the little things that count; no grand gestures necessary. And, don’t worry about being thanked in return; do it with an open heart and see what happens.

Let me know how it goes, and please share this post with your friends and family. If enough of us get involved, we just might raise the USA’s Happy Planet Index standing!  I’d like that.

Have a great week – be happy!




  1. Thanks for the reminder. With the extreme heat this summer, I’ve been crankier than ever. I must to remember to chill. Hmmm…I believe ice cream will help.


  2. Patrice, What wonderful information, I do this every day with my sweetheart. It’s people like you that make life so sweet, for so many. God bless you! Ed K.


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