I just found an interesting link about the newest list to the happiest countries of the world and suddenly felt like discussing, thinking and reasoning a little bit about it. You are very welcome to join me and get straight to the end of these words with me. No photos this time, just chatty chat. Let’s get started shall we?
“New world’s happiest country is…COSTA RICA!”
Yes, my Costa Rica. The country where I was born and raised, where my family gives me heat from the heart every day and where my life has mostly been until 3 years ago.
Apparently, my home country took Denmark’s first place away from the happiest countries list. Accordingly to some new considerations, there is live expectancy, happiness and the newest parameter: environmental sustainability.
Why do I got interested into writing about this?
Well, I recently was visiting Denmark and many thoughts assaulted my mind while there. And after crossing by with this “news” I kept thinking in several things that will take place in the next few lines. Rant or just personal opinion, take it as you wish. Is life’s experience in the end.
As a traveler from the heart, I have really learned within years and time on how we can grow as individuals. First in our social environment, with family as the social basis from all times. Then friends come along the story, giving us the chance to develop some other skills for life. All good. Then, some people get the urge to travel far away from their homeland to see more, to try and learn more, to learn different things, to feel different from what we have been shown and taught, also a good thing of course!
I did it and I am living abroad right now, traveling and moving every time possible. I wish I could take every single person in the world to do that and just go, move, travel, go overseas, see, taste, feel…and then go back if liked, or not. But I am a fearful believer that everyone should go abroad at least for a 3-month period as a minimum. Three months certainly goes by really fast but you can do a lot and have a good sip of the world, in case you are the homesick style or if you just can’t be far away for long, 3 months is pretty fair to work as a mind-opener. But then I realize that this idea might be utopian for many people, sadly. Why? Hard to tell, too many reasons in everyone’s lives.
As a costarican citizen and also expat in Spain for almost 3 years, some ideas got inside my mind when reading the title to this news. Definitely is not the same traveling than living in a country, that is quite clearly known. But once again, more questions grow into my thoughts.
On my recent trip to Denmark I found myself in the middle of a surprising feeling of being quite extremely glad to have gone there. This was a country which I never used to think much about, not for any particular reasons. It was simply on one edge of my travel sketch until now. The day for Denmark’s turn on my travel list came up.
And I have to say, after being here, running it’s roads and meeting the culture in a very pure and natural way, I can’t really figure out the reasons on why a country like this would suddenly “stopped being” the happiest country in the world…is there such thing?
Now, time to move 8 hours back in time to Costa Rica. Number 1 happiest country today!
As a national citizen and also realistic person living out there somewhere, I have to say: Is all true what they say about Costa Rica being the #1 country who abolished the army back in December 1, 1948. Is also true about us being a totally green country, well known for it’s green beaches, volcanoes and eco-travel experiences. Is all true that we have really warm people and manners to all who comes and visit us. Is true that we are good people trying to live a “simple” life, no worrying about world’s problems out there and trying to solve our own. As I write all these, some of the last words seem to go blurry during their way from my mind into my hand and through these laptop keys. Why?
Well, now time to go into some national reality too.
I like my place, mostly for its people and its nature. Nature can really feel happy of being born and growing here, where they will be fully protected and taken care of. That for sure!
Again, as a local person there is a different story. And don’t get me wrong, it is obvious and understandable that things will always look differently from the inside than the outside. As I was traveling and learning about Denmark’s society and culture, I was quite impressed, even though it was only traveling. But for several reasons, I was able to taste a bit of national and local thinking and way of living.
In Costa Rica, the social reality is that we are an unsafe country regarding robbery and matters of violence. Is not what it used to be 15 years ago (like any other country in the world probably). But still, that is no justification to how things behave today. Whenever someone ask me or my husband about what to visit in Costa Rica since is a popular travel destination, we talk beauty of course, of the things that deserves it, a lot of it…just keeping them away from the city! (San Jose).
We are both from the city, our families live there, we grew there and went to school there, even up to college. We might probably go back there someday! But in my opinion, is no place to choose for a living if you are not from there. Simple truth to me and sorry if other compatriots don’t agree with me here, I have my reasons and the right to have them. I am not hurting anyone with this. Just please try not to think with the heart only, but also with knowledge, reason and facts. The same as you fellow traveler and expat would do about your own country. I know we share this point of view, independent from where you are from.
San Jose is our capital city.
A very messy one, we all know it! I will say first the bad things I believe there are in a row, so we can take that bandaid all at once almost without pain. San Jose is a messy capital city in the world, terribly organized, with a crappy transport system…if it can be called like that. Just bus transport is available and it really sucks.
Also, robbery has gained quite some land in people’s lives in the last 15 years at least. Is not like you are constantly thinking on that (actually we do) but people lives afraid and in some weird and unfair alert-mode over thieves and potential robbers trying to steal your car from you, having your purse or money violently away from you or just crashing into your house in order to get your place empty, no matter if you are at home or not. But of course, you rather not to be there and just get the scary news instead of a black bag and a rope over your head. Sad but true and whoever reads me and have also some idea of the costarican national reality can agree with me. I am not exaggerating anything here, is just like it is. Travel and living is about everything, right?
Also in our dear San Jose, driving a car is an heroic act! And I have to say I learned to drive here and I really love driving. But yes, is a tough city to drive in. Have you traveled there and get you rental car? Tell me about it. Streets/roads/highways are the worst, filled (or unfilled?) up with holes. One thing we got in good shape is car quality control for sure! In order to keep up strong cars for driving our roads…
Yes, dear friend asking me about visiting my country, just keep away from the city. Besides that, you will have lots of green and peaceful places to relax at, to enjoy nature, to surf some waves and to eat good local food. People will be kind to you if you need help. We are warm, trusty and sometimes naive persons…and we are proud of it.
The good stuff: We are good workers, not exactly hard workers…who doesn’t love the comfort zone when there are no crisis of any kind hitting on you, ever in history? We also really enjoy time with family and friends, it is definitely one of the main things that keep us away from leaving the country. Actually very fortunate thing to have really! The warmth of our people wins over the social issues we live within. Us, costaricans, are a reliable community, we want to help, we believe in people, in good reasons, in faith. We offer everything we can when someone is in need, no matter who.
I don’t doubt we got ourselves in the listing of the happiest countries. But are we really happy people? I don’t value that when I know we are living afraid of being robbed in a violent way as happy living. Or when many people I personally know, for whatever reasons, live under a strong guilt due to religious believes as a VERY conservative, almost religion-governed country. To me this is simply wrong and unfair. These are some other things I love the most about living abroad.
As I think back on my recent danish experience, I can’t believe instead how they can really take away from them a position from the top happy places. Of course is not perfect, but people have a very good life quality, a good educational level, a good employment panorama, a safe and sustainable environment, a quite steady country that hasn’t even been touched barely by the economic crisis harming the world. As I spoke to several danish citizens from different regions, both countryside and from several cities, smaller and bigger ones, all I got from them was a proud satisfied group of people about their national reality in every sense. They are all conscious about it, they are good and they know it. They don’t mess with anyone else and nobody messes with them either. The same as in Costa Rica, but not for the same reasons.
Costarican citizens are happy people, no doubt about it. We haven’t been touched that much by the crisis either, so jobs are still there. People works a lot. We are a steady country with 2 seasons: rainy and not rainy, where you can still get rain anyways! We have same light hours whole year round: from 5:30 am to 6:00 pm the most…and we also have the same work hours all year round: from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm the most, having little or no space to enjoy daylight! Another reason to think about…
When I have met compatriots in far away lands, they all agree on the same: happy to be enjoying day light time for other things besides work. True story!
Yes, we are good workers, in a society that teaches us what is important nowadays (not speaking of family values but extra values taught by a consumer society): having the newest car model, the best house soon enough, within a bank commitment for the next 40 years and a steady job 8-10 hours a day, 5 days a week, during the same hours you could play sometimes with your kids or dogs outside. Because, you arrive home at 6pm or 7pm, after being driving for almost 1 hour or more in the middle of rush hour, in order to get to your place, which is no further than 10 kms from your work place. Nonsense but real.
Rush-hour: Preferred time for thieves too to crash into your windshield for some coins out of your property. Don’t ever leave your purse, laptop, office bag or anything on visible spots while driving, other than yourself! But then again, if you safely put your things in your trunk, they will open it for you in the middle of the road congestion without you being able to do anything about it. You better don’t move because a hurtful weapon of any kind could come your way.
One vicious circle between crappy transport system, road system and the need of having a car, 2 or 3 cars per house easily happens, no matter your social range, everyone has a car. So yes, streets get really rushed and lives get really stuffed with material things!
We have nice big houses with comfortable yards of our own, which we barely use on the weekends, maybe our dogs, playing lonely with no social doggy skills. Another thing I have loved about some countries abroad is that somehow, you are forced to go out and let your dog play with other dogs, or your kids to interact with other kids besides school time, no matter if it is summer or winter, you go out and play and spend time with your people and new people!
This is quite a complex thing to talk about but also a deserved one. Why not?
The title of those news pop into my head again. Why would Costa Rica be happier than Denmark, being this last one a safer and steadier place to live? Is it really even necessary to compare these or any other places?
Why do we need to put them into lists?
I think that I should live in every single country in order to make a list and still would be just my personal point of view, like this article.
I have my perspective of national reality from my home country. I was able to experience Denmark and yet not as a citizen. You can get a general idea of a place and there is a general feeling about a country’s situation, which along with world’s parameters by United Nations and a few others is what they use to make those lists.
But in the end and in such case, I can say I like my country just because I have emotional attachments there, not because I think is the best country. Actually is far form that. Political, social and economical reasons tells me so. And in personal experience, I have valued other things in foreign countries, that gives more value to what I believe as a happy place.
I said lots of good and bad things about my country here, don’t take me wrong…is not bad, is just the way it is. I am not scaring anyone into going there and live, is not impossible, nowhere is. And Denmark isn’t perfect either. There’s no perfect country.
But among the entire world and the places I’ve been able to travel and visit, to taste and feel, to learn and read about…I can only say there is no happiest country on these or any parameters. We know we don’t want to live in a country in the middle of war, those are thicker reasons of course. Even obvious ones. Middle East, Africa, hunger…
But overall and within the society we know and we live in, we know a very small piece of happiness and a very unique and comfortable piece of reality in the world. We know what we are shown at first, in between our own circle very delimited with good stuff mostly, then we experience some other things. We learn and make opinions of our own.
A Real Reality
All of you who are reading this, the same as I do, are reading this because you have access to internet. You probably have a flat or a house with a yard somewhere or maybe you are living a nomadic life, but still you have the means to do this life. You certainly have a job, at a cubicle office or as freelance. You as I do, work in a world for money in order to live. And we are lucky enough to get it, to be able to move, to eat, to go to the movies, to go on a beach vacation, to have a sunday picnic or day trip out, to have kids and raise them without hunger or diseases.
We all that are reading/writing this article, live in one side of the world, probably the only one we’ve known for long in the real side of it. This has been OUR reality, but not everyone’s reality. We all know this as well.
Rather than searching the happiest place or reasoning about it, I think we all better get into books, into reading, into knowledge, far from any kind of boundaries and we will all know better…for ourselves.
No matter if you choose to have the steady job or the newest biggest car and the big-loan-payment house or if you choose to have the ocean and the road as your office. I don’t believe in new cars and loans. I rather use my money differently, but hey, that’s me.
In the end, the thing is that you are being able to choose what is important to you.
And precisely this should be the ONE happy, steady, balanced thing about our lives. Costa Rica or Denmark, countryside or city person. Countries have their own realities and they are for sure better or worst places. And here’s when I believe we must build our happy place in the place where we feel better persons and where we feel we can live better. Not necessarily home country or abroad. Doesn’t really matter. You will have your own opinion based on your own life experiences and circumstances.
So, happiest country? Not sure, don’t know, don’t care. My happy place? Maybe.
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