Self-help books may tell you to look inside to find happiness, but you can also find it by looking outside — as in outside the country. People from Central America to Scandinavia regularly rank among the happiest in the world. We’ll let you in on their secrets so you can try them yourself.

1. Tarab (Egypt)

The ecstasy people experience when listening to the enchanting vocals and instrumentation of Arab music.

The emotion that this traditional music evokes causes the brain to release dopamine, a chemical that gives you pleasure.

2. Gökotta (Sweden)

The act of waking up early in the morning and going outside to hear the birds sing.

A 2008 study published in the journal Psychological Science found that immersing yourself in nature boosts cognitive ability and helps you recharge better.

3. Sobremesa (Spain)

The time spent sitting around the table talking with family and friends after you dine together.

It provides important bonding time with loved ones and reduces stress by ensuring you slow down and relax.

4. Strong Sense of Community (Iceland)

Icelanders never feel isolated and alone when facing hardship. They always look out for each other and the common good.

Studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology show that a feeling of belonging and knowing you’re not alone are key to happiness and well being.

5. Pura Vida (Costa Rica)

Literally “pure life,” it’s the Costa Rican perspective that evokes a carefree, laid back and optimistic spirit.

According to researcher Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, savoring little moments in life leads to a brighter, happier outlook.

6. Tai Chi (China)

A centuries-old meditative exercise consisting of graceful, fluid movements that circulate the body’s internal energy, or chi.

A review in Harvard Health Letter notes that the slow, controlled nature of this ancient exercise lowers blood pressure and reduces stress.

7. Yoga (India)

A practice that incorporates body poses, meditation and controlled breathing to cultivate awareness of self and, ultimately, reach higher consciousness.

Yogis are known to be more fully engaged in the moment, less stressed and in good overall health.

8. Sabbath (Israel)

A weekly day of rest to put work aside, unplug from the digital world and spend time connecting with family.

Our bodies and minds need to rest and recover from their hard work. It’s essential to maintaining long-term physical and mental health.

9. Hanami (Japan)

The Japanese version of “stop and smell the roses,” flower viewing is the culturally-valued practice of gathering to see and appreciate the cherry blossoms in spring.

Enjoying our natural surroundings, and the floral scents that go with them, has been shown to improve our well being.

10. Fjaka (Croatia)

Essentially the sweetness of doing nothing, practicing fjaka allows Croatians’ minds and bodies to completely relax.

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, downtime is an essential part of short-term mental and physical rejuvenation, as well as long-term health.

There’s no one way to attain happiness, but one thing is for sure: you can adopt any of these practices or philosophies today. They don’t require spending anything other than a little time and energy. And that’s a small price to pay for invaluable results.


Author's Bio: 

Mary is a freelance writer and digital nomad currently living in rainy yet wonderful London. She writes (and reads!) about personal growth, productivity in the workplace, self improvement, and the importance of work/life balance and how to achieve it.