Why Costa Rica Is One Of The Happiest Countries In The World

Costa Rica is ranked #1 in the Happy Planet Index (HPI). Can you imagine why?
According to Professor Mariano Rojas, the country’s leading economist, the key to happiness is Costa Rica’s culture of strong communities of friends,
families and neighbours. “Costa Ricans enjoy the pleasure of living daily life to the fullest in a place that mitigates stress and maximises joy”. In summary, Costa Rica’s happiness recipe is a combination of enjoying the moment, family bonding, universal health, education, peace, faith, equality and generosity.

Community Mindset
In general in Costa Rica, family and community are very important and an integral part of daily life. Oftentimes, multiple generations live within close proximity and are actively involved in each other lives. Neighbours treat one another more like extended family. There is a great sense of connectivity between those living in the same community. It is this connection that contributes to the overall happiness and health of those residing in Costa Rica. In Costa Rica, its’ citizens prioritise their life with different values. Their main values are centred around family, religion and social interaction. On contrary to other countries which focus on achieving financial security or getting ahead. This shift in values makes all the difference with the meaningfulness of one’s life. In other countries, life goals are centred around themselves. However, in Costa Rica, the thoughts shift, and they are less self- evoked. This shift in mentality makes Costa Ricans live a more meaningful life while creating a stress-free environment.

Lack of Materialism: Simple, But Rich Life
“When we lived in New York we were reminded daily of all the things we didn’t have yet. Here, instead, we are reminded daily of all the incredible things we get to experience”
In Costa Rica, the emphasis is on experiences and not on materialistic things. This lack of materialism and need for things has a large impact on the country’s happiness. Their focus on experiences and simplicity is crucial to their happy and fulfilling lives.

Living in Nature Can Lead to Happiness
Costa Rican landscape and wildlife diversity are precious. This little country of Central America contains 6% of the world’s biodiversity. Being surrounded by lush nature is probably one of the things that make people happy. Nature experiences lead to reduced stress and behavioural changes that improve mood and general well-being. Costa Ricans are very happy with living in nature, as opposed to the city lifestyle. This result could be associated with the fact that people obtain Vitamin D through exposure to sunlight.

The Costa Rican Diet: We Are What We Eat
Costa Ricans as a whole, eat healthy, fresh foods with few preservatives. All of these foods are locally grown and freshly prepared daily. Meals usually consists of beans and rice and lots of fresh tropical fruits, vegetables or both. When it comes to dairy, red meat, refined sugar and processed foods, Costa Rica’s consume a fraction of what North Americans do.

The Importance of Peace
Domestic and international peace has long been a priority in Costa Rica. In 1948, the country abolished its military, allowing it to spend more on health and education. In September 2009, the Costa Rican legislature created a Ministry of Justice and Peace, emphasising the role of peace promotion and conflict resolution in preventing violent crime. According to Costa Rica’s Nobel Prize-winning president, Oscar Arias Sanchez: “Peace is not a dream. It’s an arduous task. We must start by finding peaceful solutions to everyday conflicts with the people around us. Peace does not begin with the other person; it begins with each and every one of us.”

Protecting the Landscape “Good lives need not cost the Earth”
The Costa Rican government’s promotion of peace and health for its citizens extends to a peaceful and healthy relationship to the planet. In 2015, the country produced 99% of its electricity from renewable energy. In a further effort to go green, the country has banned oil drilling within its borders and invests heavily in renewable energy sources like hydroelectric, wind, and geothermal power, which now provide 95% of its energy.

Costa Rica is “pura vida”!
Costa Rican culture can be summed up in only two words: Pura Vida! It’s a phrase that literally means „pure life,” but has become the country’s national motto and way of living. It’s living the good life, cherishing simple pleasures, spending time with loved ones and enjoying a slow, relaxed pace of life. Costa Ricans have a very simple way of looking at life. No worries, no fuss, no stress —pura vida to them means being thankful for what they have and not dwelling on the negative.

5 KEY WORDS: sense of connectivity, social interaction, meaningful life, lack of materialism, well-being

The Huffington Post, (2018). Why Costa Rica Is One Of The Happiest Countries In The World.
The Independent, (2016). Happy Planet Index: Happiest country in the world named as Costa Rica.
The Guardian, (2009). Costa Rica is world’s greenest, happiest country. Yes! Magazine, (2019). Why Costa Rica Tops the Happiness Index.

Autor: Giulia Cipollone/