15 Things That Prove The Happiest Countries in The World Aren’t The Richest

People often say that money can't buy happiness, which might be true because many of the happiest countries in the world are considered some of the poorest. In an online discussion, people shared the things that prove the happiest countries in the world aren't the richest.

1. Work as a Community

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Countries where the people prioritize community and camaraderie have much happier citizens. Someone said, “Every time I travel to a “developing country” I'm always blown away by how hospitable and welcoming the people are. I never ever take it for granted.”

2. Reuse Items

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Reusing items is another way countries can be seen as happy. People are happier in countries where people repurpose and recycle as much as possible instead of throwing things away. One man said, “Reuse things. So many things get fixed, recycled, and repurposed.”

3. Social Contact 

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Social contact is so important. Spending time with friends, family, and neighbors should be more important than working long hours and making money. One man said, “The first thing my relatives from India observe when they visit our suburban Texas home is where all the people are?! Hundreds of massive homes and hardly any people seen outside.”

4. Little to No Food Waste

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There are so many hungry people in the world. Countries where people respect the value of food and do their best to avoid waste have happier people. Someone said, “Every part of an edible thing is consumed. Nothing goes to waste. Lots of creative recipes with things that people in the first world country would just throw away.” 

5. Problem-Solving

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Instead of getting bogged down by problems, countries have happier citizens when the people are proactive and work together to solve problems. One man shared, “I lived in Indonesia and France, and guess in which country it was easier just to get things done. It wasn't even close. People in Indonesia were just happy to help while I dealt with so much unnecessary pushback in France. India is another place like that where you can ask any random person if they know a shop or a guy, and 9 times out of ten, you get what you need.” 

6. Communal Mealtimes

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Communal mealtimes are very common in some countries. People often come together to share meals and enjoy each other's company. This creates a deeper sense of joy and connection. One man remarked, “It's generalizing, but in poorer countries, food is much more communal.” 

7. Focus On The Present 

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Rather than constantly worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, people who live in the moment and appreciate what they have in the present are generally happier. Someone shared, “Enjoy life's pleasures. The breeze in your face. The sound of a river. The hug of a family member. The taste of hot food. The warmth of a bed. Rich countries are too concerned with corporate bottom lines to care about such things.”

8. Family Bonds

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The sense of familial support is a huge contributor to happiness and well-being. In places that aren't considered rich countries, the family bonds are incredibly strong. One man said, “The Western world is so full of depressed, lonely people because it's so focused on ‘the grind' and comparing oneself to everyone else. Poorer people often have close family ties, probably out of necessity, and a much stronger sense of community.”

9. Dealing With Uncertainty

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Handling anything life throws at you is crucial for your happiness. Rather than getting anxious or stressed out by unexpected events, adaptable and flexible people live happier lives. One woman said, “Flexibility and resilience. People in rich countries like to plan and anticipate. They are organized. It's great when everything goes according to plan, but all hell breaks loose when things go haywire. People in poor countries are better at dealing with uncertainty.” 

10. People Take Care of Each Other

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Whether through acts of kindness or simply being there for someone in need, the idea of community support is deeply ingrained in their culture. One woman said, “I notice this is lacking in “western” culture. Everyone just cares about themselves, and greed is just rampant. I've traveled quite extensively (at 50 countries now), and I always appreciate how people can support and respect anyone, even tourists.” 

11. Folk Art

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Folk art is how many people express themselves and connect with their culture and heritage. People are typically happier in countries that value folk art, music, and dance. Someone remarked, “Folk art. In rich countries, it's not cost-effective to put a lot of time into decorative crafts, so the traditions die out pretty quickly.” 

12. Healthier, Cheaper Food

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You might think it's the wealthiest countries in the world with the best quality food. But in some countries, rather than relying on expensive, processed foods, people tend to eat more whole, plant-based foods that are both nutritious and affordable. One man said, “Definitely food. Much fresher, much healthier, and much cheaper food. The chicken I bought from a dirty, smelly market in India was some of the best I ever had.” 

13. Walkability 

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Walkable towns and cities are few and far between in the more developed countries. In many places, people often walk or bike to get around instead of relying on cars and other forms of transportation. One woman said, “My mom's family is from the Philippines. Our neighbors had grocery/convenience stores in their front yards. I liked being able to walk next door and get soap, deodorant, ice cream, snacks, etc. Soda in a plastic bag. The garlic peanuts. I'm in Louisiana, and I'd have to get a car or walk across highways to do that here.” 

14. Homelessness 

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Given the strong social support networks, affordable housing, and a greater emphasis on community, homelessness is a much less prevalent issue in these countries than in more wealthy nations. Someone shared, “In most cases, if anyone of the family loses their house, they will be taken in by another family member, regardless of lack of space or overcrowding. The relative will be accommodated to the best of their abilities, even if it means sharing beds or the floor until they are back on their feet.” 

15. Care for Elderly Relatives

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Instead of placing elderly relatives in nursing homes or other care facilities, people in less developed countries often take care of their elderly loved ones themselves. One man said, “Look after their elderly instead of offing them to a retirement home to visit with grandkids once a week.” 


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