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International Day of Happiness: How are we doing?

Laughing gives you a mental and physical boost.iStock

Today is the International Day of Happiness, established by the United Nations to recognize that happiness is a fundamental goal of humanity.

So how are we doing? The Happy Planet Index, created by the U.K. think tank New Economics Foundation, uses data on life expectancy, wellbeing and environmental impact to rank the world’s happiest nations. Nine out of the Top 10 are in the Americas!

1. Costa Rica
2. Vietnam
3. Colombia
4. Belize
5. El Salvador
6. Jamaica
7. Panama
8. Nicaragua
9. Venezuela
10. Guatemala

But the people born in a glass-half-full country aren't the only happy ones. According to a Gallup poll, 70 perfect of adults worldwide say they are happy and have a “significant amount” of laughter in their lives.

Want to feel happier today? Here's a shortlist of things that'll make you smile: Wear bright clothing, get some fresh flowers (their scent is a mood-booster), listen to some new music (it activates the brain’s reward system – check out this playlist of "maximum joy"). Invest in your long-term happiness by working at improving a talent or learning a new skill.

Worldwide, the dictionary definition of happiness can vary hugely. Some countries set a high bar, others believe in luck, and some even take a materialistic view.

And finally, here are five tips to leading a happier life, according to the people who should know at The Happiness Institute.

Make happiness a priority. Put it on your to-do list to keep it relevant in your life.

Be grateful. We can choose to focus on what we have or what we don’t have — remember to appreciate the things that enrich your life.

Invest time and energy in your important relationships. Happy people spend more time with the people in their lives.

Take charge of your life. Control what you can, and accept the things you have no power over.

Play and have fun. Stress is not just harshing your buzz, it’s bad for your health.


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