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The Top 5 Happiest Countries In The World

The Top 5 Happiest Countries In The World

I think it’s quite safe to say that 2016 wasn’t the best year ever. For many, it was strange and frightening. For others, it was even worse than that. Our immediate future doesn’t look all that great based on what we saw this year, but there are some places on earth where happiness reigns.

2017 could be the perfect time for a trip to one or more of the happiest countries on earth. Who knows, perhaps by paying them a visit, we’ll all feel a bit happier again.

1. Finland

    We can see a familiar pattern start to form when it comes to the world’s happiest countries. Three of the top five countries are located in Scandinavia, which should probably tell us that they are really doing something right.

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    Finland is renowned for its excellent education system, low levels of corruption, very high literacy rates, and a relatively small income gap from top to bottom. Factor in a long life expectancy and a great work-life balance and it’s not difficult to see why Finland is one of the happiest countries in the world.

    If the city isn’t your thing, tourists may also quite enjoy some of the stunning Nordic country scenery that Finland is known for.

    2. Norway

    In recent years the Norwegian government made a real push to advertise this amazing country to the rest of the world. The pictures spoke for themselves and this is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in Scandinavia. It might not be the cheapest holiday vacation in the world, but you can’t really put a price on happiness.

    For its full-time residents, Norway is one of the happiest countries in the world thanks to its prosperity and a sense of satisfaction with the standard of living. Not to mention the fact that three-quarters of people report that, in general, positive days far outweigh the negative ones.

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    3. Iceland

      Iceland is a great example for every country out there. Given its recent troubled history, it is amazing that Iceland is now considered one of the happiest countries in the world. It’s placing here just shows you how much positivity can be drawn from what seem to be the most challenging of times.

      The massive economic recession of 2008 served to bring communities within Iceland together. In doing so they have turned their country around. The true root of happiness may be a more complex topic to understand, but this beautiful place will bring a smile to the face of any visitor.

      With active volcanoes, pristine beaches, lovely towns and cities, an amazing loop road around the whole country for road trip lovers, and just the most incredible natural beauty available in all directions, it’s easy to see why Iceland is one of the happiest countries on earth.

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      4. Switzerland

      Switzerland breaks up the Scandinavian monopoly on the world’s happiest countries with its appearance here. Its inclusion is also a little surprising as Switzerland might seem to be the opposite in many ways from the other happy countries. This is a country which includes one of the most expensive cities in the world and has long been renowned for drawing in the world’s jet-setters to its ski slopes and numerous fancy boutiques.

      What it certainly does have in common with the other happiest countries on the list is an abundance of natural beauty. The Alps, mountain lakes, picturesque towns, and villages that serve hearty, local food, it’s a haven for adventure and sports’ lovers. Switzerland is fully deserving on the list of the world’s happiest countries.

      5. Denmark

        Denmark is officially the happiest country in the world. A lot of people have become aware of this fact over the last few years. In fact, the Danish word, hygee, as come to define this uniquely high-level of happiness.

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        Hygee can loosely be translated to coziness, but there is also an emphasis on how the Danes just seem to take real pleasure in simple things. When you think about it, it is strange that Scandinavia with so much cold weather and darkness should be such a happy place. The people here are obviously able to innately draw on some inner resilience to see the light in things.

        For happiness-tourists, Denmark is an excellent stop. For all of us, it should be observed and studied rather than simply enjoyed. If whole parts of the world can be genuinely happy as a collective, there’s no reason why the rest of us can’t join in too.

        Additional photo credits:  Markus Trienke, Moyan Brenn, John Anes.

        Featured photo credit: Candida.Performa/It’s all about love via flic.kr

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        Last Updated on October 23, 2018

        Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

        Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

        My mother was a great knitter and produced some wonderful garments such as Aran sweaters which were extremely fashionable when I was young. She also knitted while my father drove, which caused great amusement. I often wondered why she did that but I think I know the answer now.

        Knitting is good for your mental health, according to some research studies. The Washington Post mentions a 2013 survey of about 3,500 knitters who were asked how they felt after a knitting session. Over 80% of them said they definitely felt happier. It is not a totally female occupation as more and more men take it up to get the same benefits. Harry Styles (One Direction) enjoys knitting. So does Russell Crowe although he does it to help him with anger management!

        The Neural Knitwork Project

        In Australia, Neural Knitworks was started to encourage people to knit and also become aware of neuroscience and mental health issues. Knit-ins were organized but garments were not the only things created. The knitters produced handmade neurons (1,665 of them!) to make a giant brain. The 2015 project will make more neural knitted networks (neural knitworks) and they will be visible online. You can see some more examples of woolly neurons on the Neural Knitworks Facebook page.

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        While people knitted, crocheted and crafted yarn, they listened to experts talking about mental health issues such as addiction, dementia, depression, and how neurons work.

        The knitting and neural connection

        The human brain has about 80 billion neurons. Learning new skills, social interaction, and physical activity all help to forge neural connections which keep the brain healthy and active. They are creating networks to control movement and make memories. The knitters learn that as they create the woollen neurons, their own neurons are forming new pathways in their brains. Their creations are mimicking the processes in their brains to a certain extent. At the same time, their brains are registering new and interesting information as they learn interesting facts about the brain and how it works. I love the knitworks and networks pun. What a brilliant idea!

        More mental health benefits from knitting

        Betsan Corkhill is a physiotherapist and has published some results of completed studies on her website, appropriately named Stitchlinks. She conducted some experiments herself and found that knitting was really helpful in reducing panic and anxiety attacks.

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        “You are using up an awful lot of brain capacity to perform a coordinated series of movements. The more capacity you take up by being involved in a complex task, the less capacity you have for bad thoughts.”- Betsan Corkhill

        Knitters feel happier and in a better mood

        Ann Futterman-Collier, Well Being Lab at Northern Arizona University, is very interested in how textile therapy (sewing, knitting, weaving and lace-making) can play an important role in mood repair and in lifting depressive states.

        She researched 60 women and divided them into three different groups to do some writing, meditating and work with textiles. She monitored their heartbeat, blood pressure and saliva production. The women in the textiles group had the best results when their mood was assessed afterwards. They were in a better mood and had managed to reduce their negative thoughts better than those in the writing and meditation groups.

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        “People who were given the task to make something actually had less of an inflammatory response in the face of a ‘stressor’.” – Dr. Futterman Collier

        The dopamine effect on our happiness

        Our brains produce a chemical called dopamine. This helps us to feel happy, more motivated, and assists also with focus and concentration. We get a boost of dopamine after sex, food, exercise, sleep, and creative activities.

        There are medications to increase dopamine but there are lots of ways we can do it naturally. Textile therapy and crafting are the easiest and cheapest. We can create something and then admire it. In addition, this allows for a little bit of praise and congratulations. Although this is likely not your goal, all these can boost our dopamine and we just feel happier and more fulfilled. These are essential in facing new challenges and coping with disappointment in life.

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        “Sometimes, people come up to me when I am knitting and they say things like, “Oh, I wish I could knit, but I’m just not the kind of person who can sit and waste time like that.” How can knitting be wasting time? First, I never just knit; I knit and think, knit and listen, knit and watch. Second, you aren’t wasting time if you get a useful or beautiful object at the end of it.” – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much.

        If you thought knitting and textiles were for old ladies, think again!

        Featured photo credit: DSC_0012/Mary-Frances Main via flickr.com

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