Drizzly Denmark is the happiest country in the world. No, really. There’s research to back it up. But other research shows Costa Rica is happiest. It all depends on what you measure.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)—the Paris-based group that says Denmark is happiest—measures only life satisfaction. It asked citizens questions like “Did you learn something today?” and “Were you proud of something you did yesterday?”
But, nef, the independent “think-and-do tank” that says Costa Rica is happiest, measures life satisfaction, life expectancy, and ecological footprint. This allows it to assess the “environmental efficiency with which, country by country, people live long and happy lives.” It assigns each country a “Happy Planet Index” (HPI). So it’s not just about the happiness of a country’s people; it’s about whether or not the way that country’s citizens live makes the planet happy. An interactive map shows each country’s cumulative index and its index for each measure.
In addition to checking out your country’s HPI, you can also calculate your own personal HPI. Mine was 64. That’s above the world average of 46 but well below the target of 83, “which represents a good life that doesn’t cost the earth,” according to the folks at nef. Once you have your score, the site generates suggestions on how to improve in each area.
My ecological footprint really hurt my overall score, a weakness my country shares: The U.S. ranked 114th on the Happy Planet Index because it, too, has an outsized ecological footprint. We’re both going to have to work on that.
Check out what Herman Miller is doing to improve our ecological footprint through our environmental advocacy initiatives.