why are costa ricans smiling?

From what I’ve read and heard from friends who’ve visited Costa Rica, it is the happiest nation on the planet. Why is this?

According to the New Economics Foundation’s Happy Planet Index, Costa Rica ranked #1 out of 143 countries across the globe. The NEF measured national happiness based on the ecological footprint and the health and happiness of a nation’s citizens. Perhaps not surprisingly, the US ranked #114.

Yes! Magazine reported on the happiness of Costa Rica last year, pointing out that the nation dissolved its military in 1948 to focus their spending on health and education.

The focus on education is not just about academic achievement. From the Yes! article:

Central to Costa Rica’s promotion of peace is the Rasur Foundation, which organized the summit and lobbied for the creation of the Ministry of Justice and Peace. Rasur is a teacher in a Costa Rican poem who tells a group of children, “Before directing the lightning in the sky, we must first harness the storms in our own hearts.” Through its Peace Academy, the Rasur Foundation works with the Costa Rican Ministry of Education to introduce techniques of conflict resolution and “being peace” in Costa Rican schools.

Read more…

Considering the emotional wealth of the country, it seems this major shift towards health, education, peace and environmental stewardship has paid off.

And I’m about to find out firsthand. This here blog is going to be quiet for the next week – I’m heading to Costa Rica!

Stay tuned for my observations and photos, and in the meantime, check out these videos about environmental education and stewardship in Costa Rica from explore.org:

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