LIfe Wanderlust

8 Secrets From The Happiest Countries In The World

10 September 2019

Whenever a report comes out listing the happiest countries around the world, pretty much every single Scandinavian country comes out on top. In fact, in the most recent World Happiness Report, the top 5 countries are some of the coldest places on Earth. Like how? For half of the year, they don’t even see sunlight!

The Northern Hemisphere must be doing something very right. TBH, we could learn a thing or two from them since Australia has dropped two places to 11th since 2016.

We have compiled in no particular order some pearls of wisdom on happiness from some of the most livable countries in the world. Maybe if we all put in a little extra effort, the land of Aus will find itself in the top 10 again.


The secret to happiness according to the Danish is to live in hygee. No, this is not a place, it’s a mindset. Basically it’s to live a simple life, enjoy the little things and to live in the present moment. Make your home a sanctuary, don’t feel guilty about treating yourself, make self-care a priority and don’t fill your downtime with so many plans. They are the best at the art of doing nothing.

The Danes are thriving in the areas of financial wellbeing and community engagement. While they do pay lots of taxes, they get lots of great benefits in return. University is free for students, on average people work less than 40 hours a week, the latest childcare services are open is 4:30pm and new parents get year long paid parental leave. 


The greatest Finnish phrase I’ve ever heard is kalsarikännit. It means ‘staying home and getting drunk in your underwear’. Yes please!

In Finland, they also love the simple life, creating a happy home, comfort food and spending time with loved ones. They also take care of the wellbeing of their people as schooling and university and health care are all free for their citizens. They have a big love for saunas, believing that they make your skin brighter and your body healthier.

Lastly, they are great at reframing the negative into the positive. Finland is a country where they see the rain more than they see the sun. When it rains they think that it’s a perfect time to take care of yourself, stay warm, read, write, cook, reflect, connect and cuddle the people you love. 

Costa Rica 

Costa Rica’s sustainability initiatives, love for their environment and acts of giving sets them apart from the other countries. Their geography and social policies have instilled the importance of family, health care, education and equality. Education and health care are free, they generate most of their electricity from renewable resources and they use the tax collected from fossil fuels to protect their forests.

The Costa Ricans also have a word for their way of life, pura vida, which entails living life the peaceful way, simply, free from worry and supported by positive emotions which you can achieve by spending time in nature, being kind and socialising with your friends and family often.


You may have heard the term fika before. This means ‘a pause’. In other words, enjoy your breaks and take breaks more regularly. If you’re working like crazy to meet a deadline, work for 20 minutes, take a break for 5 and repeat. Enjoy your lunch breaks, don’t skip them. Stop talking and just listen to people and perform random acts of kindness.

Swedes are also massive fans of the morgondopp, the morning dip. Getting outside first thing in the morning and plunging into the sea or lakes. Considering it can get as cold as -39.5C, I think I’ll pass. However, there’s no denying pending time with yourself in nature is the best mood booster. 

New Zealand 

Who wouldn’t be happy in nature’s paradise? New Zealanders have a special connection with their natural environment and love spending time outdoors. They experience many earthquakes, their country being home to many active volcanoes. Knowing that everything around you could crumble at any moment keeps many of the citizens grounded and humble. Having respect and taking care of the Earth is another outcome of this. Their secret is to not think of yourself as being superior to nature, don’t take yourself too seriously and take the time to reflect on the bigger picture. 

The Netherlands 

Another country that not surprisingly takes a top spot. Holland is very open-minded, free spirited, accepting, relaxed and fun.

The Dutch take work-life balance very seriously. On average they work just 29 hours a week! Yep, you read that right, when can I move? They also take a lot of vacations, sometimes 3-4 times a year. Plus, those vacations are a lot easier to organise when you can move around so easily in Europe. Why does Australia have to be so far away from everything?

The Dutch also prefer participating in low cost activities and doing more of them instead of splurging on high cost activities and experiencing less of them. In other words, they love their leisure time and won’t sacrifice it for anything, not even if it meant getting more money. 


A sense of purpose is what makes Singapore one of the happiest countries in Asia. They think of purpose as a goal, something they want to achieve and a lot of it has to do with personal fulfilment in their jobs and providing for their families.

Singaporeans work very hard and think very highly of their careers and their lifestyle. A driving factor of this is to make their family proud and leave a strong legacy. A good way to adopt a Singaporean approach to happiness is to live life as an example to others. 


Norwegians pride themselves on being able to turn visualisation into reality. They have a word for this, koselig. It roughly translates to the sense of cosiness. They ask themselves, how can we turn this situation into something more positive, more cosy? This relies on your own motivation to make the most out of a situation but it can always be accomplished with the help of the people closest to you. Often when we feel sad and lonely, we retreat into ourselves but happiness is contagious and surrounding yourself with people that make you laugh and smile will always lift you up. 

Secrets shared by the very happy Tamara Bose.