Defining Happiness Around the World

Last summer, asked me to write a series of articles on "The Blue Zones: Lessons For Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest" by Dan Buettner. This year he wrote a new book "Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zone Way." I have decided to write a series of articles on this new book to help us understand how people can live a happier life. Why would a health-related article focus on happiness? It's simple--the mind and body are one collective health unit. In order to impact people’s ability to heal we have to look at the mental as well as the physical components of health. On page 8 of his new book, Buettner wrote a definition of "thriving" from the Gallup Organization: “Thriving countries (countries where the people are thriving) are those whose citizens think positively about their lives and report more happiness, enjoyment, interest and respect. These countries also report significantly lower rates of health problems, sick days, stress, sadness and anger.”

I have found that people come into my naturopathic practice because they want to be happier. They think that fixing their illnesses will make them happier, reduce their pain and improve the quality of their lives. I tend to agree. People specifically come to see a naturopathic doctor because they want more than medical advice; they also are looking for a better quality of life, always including more happiness. I thought reading "Thrive" could give us some insights on how to create healthier thought patterns.

Buettner has traveled around the world for years researching the factors that cause people to live long rich lives. In this book he looked at the factors that increase the quality of life in different countries around the world. He began the book interviewing five top scientific experts in the field of happiness to get an understanding of what are the questions he will ask his research subjects around the world. In the next article we will look at Chapter 2, entitled Denmark: The World’s Happiness All- Stars. This will be a happiness trip.