Forbes recently published The World’s Happiest Places. Denmark followed by Finland and the Netherlands rated at the top of the list.

While economic health defined as high gross domestic product per capita and low unemployment rates were common factors in people experiencing well-being, other countries that were in the top ten did not match this trait. Instead, other lifestyle characteristics prompted people to feel satisfied with their lives.

Although there are nature-related factors that impact on our ability to experience happiness and joy, a favorable environment with people who enjoy their lives will prompt others to have a positive experience.

Positive experiences and feelings: What about this scenario? Two people may have started to work at age 10 delivering newspapers as a child. One person describes the experience with sorrow, recalling tough economic times and feeling they were forced to contribute to their family to bring food to the table. Instead, the other person relates their experience with joy, with pride about having been able to help out their parents and siblings. Perceiving and interpreting a past experience in a positive way will enable a more positive outlook of that same past experience. When we interpret these experiences as lessons learned instead of bad experiences, we can appreciate the wealth of experiences that have contributed to who we are today.

Learning: Imagine this other situation: two people are in class: one is bored out of his mind, distracted and distracting others, chatting and missing all information and group dynamics. The other student is hypnotized by the story, focused and attentive to every detail of the history, literature or math lesson, actively participating in conversation and debate. This same situation may present itself at work: one person feels trapped in their work situation, uninterested and bored. Their co-worker, instead, not only produces and performs at a high level but is eager to learn new skills and strategies to advance in their career and bring more wealth to their company.

Respect: Although most people agree that they appreciate being treated with respect, they may not be as giving when they need to respect someone else. In individualistic-driven cultures, the “What about my needs?” mentality prevails. Respecting others and treating them the way we’d like to be treated first as a concept continues to be the best way to relate with our family, at school and at work. Without respect, people feel intimidated and restricted. With respect, we are better able to produce and perform at our highest level, empowered to spread our wings and fly.

Family, Social and Community relationships: Many have become profoundly stressed and unhappy after losing money and investments within the current financial situation. However, by the end of the day, we won’t necessarily feel happier keeping a pile of gold in the middle of our living room. Although financial stability will give us peace of mind, establishing strong relationships with our family, friends and community will give us a deep sense of happiness. Many have learned this the hard way: working eighty hours a week to provide for their families and generating a lot of cash has not made them happy.. In times of economic distress, working additional time may be necessary for a temporary period of time. On the other end, I have had too many clients scratching their heads when they realize there’s something wrong when they are working sixteen hour days while their spouses spend their days at spas and their children spend months in a fun trip abroad! Most will agree about making sacrifices for their family’s safety but many more prefer to work less and enjoy their significant relationships with those they love.

Life-Work Balance: Most of the countries that topped the list had about a 37 hour work week. This model enables people to have more recreational activities and an active life beyond work. In addition, aside from having time to rest or exercise, this work week may help people have more time to spend with their family, with friends and with their community, inviting them to experience joy in each and every aspect of their lives.

Author's Bio: 

GABRIELA CORA, MD, MBA, President, Executive Health & Wealth Institute.
Dr. Gaby Cora is a Wellness Doctor and Coach. She works with people and companies that want to be healthy while they become wealthy on their path to discover The Power of Wellbeing. She’s the best-selling author of Leading Under Pressure: Maximize Your Health While Building Your Wealth.

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