Is Costa Rica Really “The Happiest Country In The World”?

9310702843_f3c0c8ae41_b

A painting in a smoothie bar in Palmares. These frogs seem to have found the secret to happiness: absinthe coconuts.

Even if you’ve never been to Costa Rica, you may have heard it described as “The happiest country in the world.” And if you have been here, it’s almost certain you’ve heard that slogan, especially since there’s now a sign that proclaims “Welcome to the happiest country in the world” or something very much like that as you ride the escalator to immigration at the San Jose airport. I’ve been hearing that phrase for almost 8 years now, and it’s been on my mind a lot.

6484796875_41d59ed247_z

An advertisement for a new mobile telephone company. It says “The happiest country in the world deserves to be connected.” Speaking of connections, I fail to see any between the slogan, the company, and the picture in the advertisement.

In my class today we talked about happiness, and I asked my students if they thought that Costa Rica really deserved that title. They weren’t too sure, but I have to admit that they did seem like happy students. I say this because I asked them if they were happy, and they all said yes. They were healthy, they had their families, they had jobs, they were safe… so yes, they all said they were happy. But they weren’t so certain if Costa Rica was better than the other 193 or so countries out there. Part of that may be that they’d not traveled too much, and the places they had been (mostly the U.S. and/or Panama) may not be the best representatives of the rest of the world.

As I was researching for this evening’s class, I came across some different articles and polls about happiness. It seems that a couple studies or polls from a few years ago were the ones that gave Costa Rica top honors. The survey mentioned in this 2012 CNN article is interesting, but seems a bit “off.” It puts Costa Rica at number 1, which is all well and good, but the top 20 also includes countries like Honduras, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Cuba, and Venezuela. From what I know of these countries, it makes me seriously wonder how they’re defining happiness, and if it may be measuring something like complacency, resignation, or acceptance that’s been disguised as happiness.

Meanwhile, the 2013 World Happiness Report, a major study that had some connections to Columbia University and the UN, put Denmark and mostly other northern European countries in the top places; Costa Rica placed 12th in that study. This study seems a bit more reputable, since it measures more factors that seem to affect a person’s quality of life, and to me that seems like a better thing to rate than something intangible and vague like an emotion. As an aside, you can read more about Danish happiness here and here. Anyhow, in this report you can find more concrete data on things like a country’s economy, life expectancy, and generosity as measured through charitable contributions, as well as on its citizens’ perceptions of things like corruption or safety. But if you ask someone, “Are you happy?” he or she is likely to say “Yes,” at least if that person is a Costa Rican.

4463209734_a4627a4887_o

A picture of a nice, peaceful field in Denmark. I have been there quite a few times to visit relatives, and if you’d asked me 10 years ago where I’d ideally be living in 2014, I’d probably have said Denmark. At that point, I knew as much about Costa Rica as I knew about Narnia.

That’s another reason I think that a happiness survey may be skewed in favor of Costa Rica and other countries with a similar approach towards these types of questions. It seems like most people here would prefer to make and maintain the peace, as opposed to rocking the boat, even if rocking the boat may occasionally improve things. Or, as my Australian friend Lucy noted, it’s really hard to start a fight with a Costa Rican, since they tend to avoid conflict whenever possible. So if you compare that approach to an outspoken and honest (although possibly negative) answer that you may get from a German or a Dane, then it may indeed seem like people here are happy, but it may just mean that they’re happier to answer your question in the affirmative, even if it’s not a true reflection of what’s going on.

4463230770_85586ea56e_o

Speaking of Denmark, I took this picture of the “decorations” on a Danish train. It sure looks like the soldiers with the Danish flag shields (red and white) are massacring the Swedish soldiers (blue and yellow). They may live in the happiest country in the world, but clearly the Danes still have some issues to work out.

Of course, there’s nothing that actually indicates that a “happy” place is actually a good place to live, or vice-versa. I’ve spent two years in Germany, and the people there are generally known for being more reserved or “cold,” whereas they’d classify Americans as superficial because we’re friendly to strangers. I can’t imagine how they’d perceive the laughing, emotional, cheek-kissing Costa Ricans using that same criteria–it’d probably break the scale. But when it comes down to it, I generally enjoyed living in Germany more than in Costa Rica. The people are reserved, but once you get to know them, they’re just as friendly as anywhere else. Plus, I always felt very safe, the transportation and health services were excellent, the food was awesome (and I didn’t have to eat white rice constantly), and there were many more green spaces and parks, which led to a general feeling of happiness and well-being. So despite the fact that on the surface we may perceive some cultures as “serious” or not happy, that’s a very superficial measurement.

Finally, I mentioned acceptance, complacency, and even resignation as possible attitudes that these surveys may actually be inadvertently measuring in some cases. In a country where every statement or plan is followed by “si Dios quiere,” or “God willing,” it seems that a lot of people relinquish at least the perception of control and responsibility to other forces, and many seem content to live with “good enough,” even if it’s not actually good. After all, if it’s not broken completely, why fix it? So how could that affect a happiness survey? Well, if the pollster asks if you’re happy, you may as well say yes. Sure, things aren’t perfect, but why complain about something that’s seemingly out of your control and not affecting your happiness at that particular moment, like bad roads or governmental bureaucracy?

4994668755_1b7389febb_b

This restaurant in Naranjo claims its pork is happy, but are its customers?

As you can maybe tell, I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I have to admit that it’s hard to express some of the ideas that have been bouncing around in my mind. But to finish off this post, I’ll share three reasons that Costa Rica may indeed be the happiest country in the world, and three reasons why it may not. As with the rest of this post, it’s all based on my opinions.

Three reasons Costa Rica may indeed be the happiest country in the world:
1. The people here are genuinely friendly, and that often translates to happiness, or at least it’s perceived that way as outsiders. It’s very easy to strike up a conversation with almost anyone when you’re waiting in an interminable line to do something like get a receipt from the power company.
2. It is a fairly peaceful and pretty place. Especially considering the country doesn’t have a military, combined with the fact that nearly all other Central American countries suffered or are suffering from depressing crime statistics, Costa Rica is a rare bit of hope in a downer of a region. And the scenery is excellent, at least when it’s not obscured by rain and/or fog.
3. Most social measurements are pretty good. The life expectancy, literacy rate, and other things like that are looking good, at least compared to most of the world. Sure, it’s not at Scandinavian levels, but it’s still acceptable.

Three reasons Costa Rica may NOT be the happiest country in the world:
1. Bad questions lead to bad answers. As mentioned before, if the surveyors are just asking flat-out if people are happy, they may not get reliable answers. I think measuring social and economic development, as well as people’s perceptions, would be a more reliable way to get the information you’re looking for here.
2. Maybe people were scared to say “no.” If you look around any city in Costa Rica, it looks like a slum in a more-developed country. Bars on the windows, razor wire on fences, attack dogs, and security cameras–we’re not talking about prisons here, we’re talking about a common private home. I think in these types of cases actions speak louder than words. People may say they’re happy, but that happiness seems to be cut with a fair amount of fear, suspicion, or other emotions.
3. There may be nothing to compare the country with, at least for many people being surveyed. While it’s a very small country and its people are becoming more mobile, there remains a huge chunk of the population that’s never left the country, and in many cases people have never left the area of the country they live in. If you’ve never seen what other places have to offer, you may just assume that what you have is the best.

What do you think? I know most people haven’t made it this far, but if you read all this way, I’d like to reward you with this picture:

10966133734_b40a8380e9_b

I saw this on the way to work one evening. Yes, it’s a guy driving a motorcycle, with a wheelbarrow strapped to his back. Is he happy? Who knows. But with something like this going on, some people may operate on an entirely different wavelength, where happiness is irrelevant. A more appropriate question may be: Does he dream of fish?

And I’d also like to ask for your opinion:

-What is happiness? Can it even be measured?
-If so, what would make a happy country?
-Is Costa Rica happy, based on your criteria?
-Any other comments? Any other happy countries you’ve visited?

In any case, I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on Facebook. Thanks for reading, and stay happy!

The following two tabs change content below.

Sitzman

Just One Monkey On One Of Infinite Typewriters at Costa Rica Outsider
Hello, and welcome to Costa Rica Outsider! My name is Ryan Sitzman. and I'm the proverbial "man behind the curtain" for this site. I hope you like it, and I'd love to hear any comments or feedback you may have. I also have a language learning blog at sitzmanabc.com, or you can check out my personal site at sitzblog.com. Thanks for stopping by!

35 thoughts on “Is Costa Rica Really “The Happiest Country In The World”?

  1. Very interesting article, Ryan. It is very hard to measure what hapiness is. I totally agree with you that if you haven’t traveled to other countries you cannot compare what you have with what other people have.
    I just want to add something related to hapiness from a costa rican point of view; the fact that family members live nearby and we are in contact with our relatives most of the time gives us confidence and hapiness. I have traveled to different countries( USA, Argentina, Guatemala, Panama) and i have seen beautiful things in every country i’ve visited, but the happiest moment for me could be said, when I arrive home and my wife, daughter, mother, father, brother, mother in law, sisters in law..etc are waiting for me in a welcome back party.

    the warm contact we have with our family gives us the happiness we need.

    what do you think?

  2. Hey Lidio, thanks for your comment! I agree that family is very important, and it’s also the best part of the trips I take when I go back to Colorado. While I’d say that family is going to be important in any culture, it does seem to at least be acknowledged more here–maybe because people in their 30s often still live with their parents, haha!

    That’s nice because I “married into” a Costa Rican family, but at the same time, it can be hard for outsiders that aren’t married to break past that “protective family barrier” and make real friendships with some Costa Ricans, since the Costa Ricans are often already focused mostly on their own familial relationships.

    Thanks again for your comment–I’ll hope to hear from other Costa Ricans and “foreigners,” too!

  3. Hi! I’m from Costa Rica, leaving I. USA for almost 7 years, I have learn the American habits just to miss every day my beautiful and happy country. Yes, maybe there are some other places without the problems that Costa Rica may have, but I don’t have words to explain the peace that u can feel in my country, wich is, for me the happiest country in the world!!

    • Hi Cynthia,

      Thanks for reading and leaving your comment. It sounds like we “traded” countries about the same time!

      I like both countries, but I think our perceptions depend a lot on where we live, too. I live in the mountains in Costa Rica, which you would think would be quiet and peaceful, but there are tons of motorcycles, dogs, car stereos, and people that make noise at all hours. Plus, there are also lots of robberies, drug problems, and litter, and a guy was even murdered in front of our house a few years ago.

      But when I go visit my family in Colorado, it’s almost always silent in their neighborhood and I feel more relaxed and at ease there, like I don’t have to lock the doors even when I’m in the house.

      All that’s anecdotal, of course, but it’s just been my experience, and it may not have much to do with happiness anyway.

      Thanks again for your comment, and I’ll hope to hear from you again soon!

  4. hey Ryan, very nice article. I have been thinking about those polls as well. here are some of my thoughts: 1 I don’t think that their approach is to ask if they are flat-out happy. I am really hoping that they ask about family, job opportunities, health care, et cetera. 2 defining happiness is very subjective.something I have noticed why living in States is that people are never happy, they keep wanting more as a result of a culture manipulated bymarketing. in Costa Rica there is a culture of less is more. It is interesting to see that’s there are some Blue Zones in the guanacaste region. people live longer and they usually have very little. This brings a huge debate about determining what development is. something I have noticed about Latin cultures is because there is a tendency to be spontaneous, free, unruled and this makes them happy. Working in the retirement industry has taught me that in the us people work so hard to realize after 40 to 50 years that they want to have a smaller house, live a simpler life, stop buy new cars, avoid debt….and move to a tropical destination. I dont believe in the si dios quiere attitude, but when I have ticos come visit me….I tell them not to believe in what they see. Most people live paycheck to paycheck. ..just like in costa rica… if the credit system disappeared, we would learn in developed economies that being happy is not entirely correlated to financial welfare. Good discussion! Great article!

    • Hey Yeison!

      Thanks for your comment–sorry it didn’t post until now, but it was in the spam folder and I didn’t notice it. Come to think of it, it does look a bit spammy–use some capital letters, man! Haha!

      I think all your points are right on. How about starting a counterpoint website called “American Outsider”? We can have a scheme to send readers back and forth! :)

      Take care and keep happy!
      Sitzman

  5. Hi we like a lot this page it has very interesting information about Costa Rica, we like a lot what you said about the people who are happy just with their familiy and their religion or belevings and we agree with you that Costa Rica is the happiest country in the world but maybe some people dissagree with your opinion but any way we do thanks. But maybe the perception that you have from hapiness is diferent from the perception that costa ricans have.

    • Hi Carlos and Mariana,

      Thanks for your comment. I agree with what Fernanda said (below), that there are different kinds of happiness, and that they’re not always able to be measured.

      In the end, I’m not actually sure if Costa Rica is the “happiest country,” and in a way, I think it’s not really a relevant question. But it is something to think about.

      Thanks again!
      Ryan

  6. We agree with this post, because we think Costa Rica is a very bautiful place to live, or to visit. Most of the people who live here actually think this is the happiest country in the world, but possibly they have not been in other places.
    We don’t think Costa Rica is the happiest country, but it is one of the happiests.
    We are students from San Agustin, and we really like your article. Keep on posting more of them.

  7. Hello, Ryan.

    We have read your post and we agree with you about the Costa Rican Slogan, this is a happy country, it doesn´t have wars constantly, like in many other countries, and that is what makes it safe and happy.
    This article is very interesting and true. Another thing to add in the good things about Costa Rica would be the great amount of wild animals, clean beaches (Not all of them but it have a lot) and forests, costaricans may be proud and happy abouth that.

    Sebastián Gazel & Hilary Alfaro.

    • Hi Sebastian and Hilary,

      Thank you for your comment. Good point about the wildlife and nature here. Costa Ricans can definitely be proud of that–but then someone might try to make a list of the “world’s proudest countries,” haha. :)

      If we were making a list of the world’s most beautiful countries, I’m sure I’d also rank Costa Rica very high. But it’s hard to rate something as intangible as an emotion (like happiness or pride).

      Thanks again!
      Ryan

  8. Hi Ryan,
    We agree with some of your comments. Costa Rica is a good place to live and people are very friendly. We think that having no army is a good reason for our happinness because is a very peaceful country. Also Costa Rica have beautiful places, beaches, volcanoes, etc.
    We are students from San Agustin and we’re happy about learning
    in this high school because is something that other people in some countries don’t have.
    Your article is very interesting, thank you.

  9. Insteresting article, I think that there are differents kinds of happiness but it can´t be measure, you just guess that the people are happy, I agree in the part that you say that if you have not traveled to other countries you think that yours is the best, but I have traveled to others countries and in any way i will change costa rica for other country. I dont believe thats that it is the “happiest coutry in the world, i think that happiness depends on you and your enviroment, there are sad people and happy every day around the world, happy depends on you not in were you live or what you have, I think that if you have a family and you´re healty, thats a good reason to be happy. I like and love my countrie because is were I´ve lived all my live and I think that anybody will say that about his/her country.

    • Hi Fernanda,

      Thanks for your comment–I liked it a lot, especially the part about how happiness can’t be measured, and that happy and sad people are everywhere.

      Thanks again!

      Ryan

  10. Hello to the San Agustin students!

    Thanks for your surprise comments and, since I’m assuming you’re probably Lidio’s students, thanks to Lidio for mentioning the page! By the way, if you’re learning English, you can also check out my site http://www.SitzmanABC.com with lots of English tips.

    I’ll respond to your comments, too, but I just wanted to say a general thanks to you all. Have a good one, and stay happy!

    Ryan

  11. Hi Maria and Jose,

    Thanks very much for your comment! I’m glad you enjoyed the article. If you have any ideas or suggestions for future topics, please feel free to tell me.

    Thanks again, and take care,
    Ryan

  12. Hello Ryan,
    The information if Costa Rica is the happiest country in the world is very interesting, we agree with you in some comments like, Costa Rica is a peaceful place to live and the people in this country is friendly and helpful, also is beautiful because we have a lot of tourist centers like beaches, volcanoes, mountains, and other that we can go with our families and enjoy a lot and pass a happy moment.
    We think that Costa Rica is not the happiest country, but can be one of them, improving more aspects.
    We are students of San Agustín and we really like your post and is so interesting.
    Blessings.

    Yelany and Juan

    • Hi Yelany and Juan,

      Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you liked the post. You said there are some aspects to improve in Costa Rica–if you were in charge, what kinds of things would you like to improve first?

      Thanks again!
      Ryan

  13. Hello

    I have never think costa rica as the most happy country in the world but i think that not all id true ,I am not talking of all the country but most of the costarricans are not like so happy i think that the expretion: “pura vida” is most like something that is used for turism but somethines not .Costa rica have other good aspects like traditions ,culture ,etc but in my final opinion costa rica is not the best or the happiest but is acepptable like a happy country but not the happiest

    Jose maria and sebastian salazar

  14. I dont think people here care really much about money or economical situation, here the most of the people have easy lifes and not too many responsabilities enough free time to do different activities that makes them happy.
    In my personal opinion Costa Rica is a really peaceful and religious country which give people a nice way of living.

  15. Hi Ryan!

    I just wanted to say that I agree with you in the posibility that this articles are not using an effective way of ranking, because you can`t rank an emotion! And sometimes people do not always show how they really feel. As you also said, sometimes we confuse happiness with acceptance or resignation, not because we can`t complain means we are happy that way. Some peolple believe they have to be happy just because there are people that have less than them. I do believe Costa Rica is a nice place to live or visit, because the inhabitants are easy going and friendly with strangers. But, I don`t believe it is the “happiest country in the world”. As there are happy people, there are also people struggling, and to be given this title, we should take into account other areas that seem to affect a person’s quality of life.
    By the way I really liked your article! Bye.

  16. Hello Ryan:)
    happiness is very dificult to explain but is very easy to be happy, your post is very interesting, I think you are right, Costa Rica isn´t the hapiest country.
    If you look each country has something that makes their citizens feel comfortable and happy, we can´t compare with other countries.
    Measured? this is impossible
    I think a happy country is based in economy, politics and the way thet treat the people, if they live without medical conditions, education is very bad so the country would be in trouble, but if the goberment gave them a good treatment it would be more acceptable for people who live in the area
    In my opinion Costa Rica is a happy country, we live in a country where we have very good education, where people are not hungry. we don´t have militar soldiers to solve our problems, we have people who know how to solve their problems by speaking.
    But I like you post is a very critical and respectfull opinion, continue making this kind of post:)

  17. Hello Ryan,
    I would like to answer you questions based on the article I just read and my personal opinion..
    What is happiness?
    Happiness is an emotion in which you feel everything is fine, is something that you can see, but you feel in your heart and in your mind. Also someone can noticed that you are happy for the way you smile, you speak and how you treat others.
    Can it even be measured?
    No, is just a mood, so you can be happy or very happy, it depend of the situation, but you can´t say “I´m 75% happy”. You can tell someone is happy but not “measured” their happiness.
    -If so, what would make a happy country?
    Costa Rica is not the happiest country in the world, as you said before there are 193 countries and is very seltfish to think that we are the happiest. People say were are because we do not have an army, and many tourist around the world like to visit this country.
    -Is Costa Rica happy, based on your criteria?
    We are.. because everyone is happy, the problem is that in some other countries people care too much about the things, costarricans we are relax and kind of mediocre in every aspect. We know we can have the best, but if we have something acceptable is ok for us.
    We are friendly and always like to meet somebody new.. and also Costa Rica has beautiful places to visit and enjoy.
    -Any other comments? Any other happy countries you’ve visited?
    I´m from Costa Rica, and I had visited U.S.A and Panama. As Costa Rica, both of them are really beautiful.
    Living in Costa Rica is really nice, but if I had the chance to live somewhere else I would. :)

    • Hi Sara,

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. It’s interesting you mentioned the mediocrity aspect, because that’s what some of my Costa Rican students (and even coworkers) have complained about. I guess if they recognize that it’s a problem, that’s the first step to solving it, but maybe the majority of the population doesn’t recognize it as a problem. What do you think? Is that a common perception in Costa Rica? Do you think it’ll improve or get worse in the future?

      Thanks again!
      Ryan

  18. Hello Ryan, I´m a Costa Rican citizen. It amazes me that I´ve actually found your article fairly interesting, as I´ve heard similar comments about Costa Rica from an Americans point of view. I totally agree that happiness cannot be only meassured as an emotion, however, I believe that Costa Ricans have a great attitude and believe that theres good in everything. I´ve been to several countries in the world, from America to Europe, enough to understand why Costa Rica has very happy people. People in France and Germany are generally known to be very cold and rude and I totally agree with that, they are not friendly to foreingh people, as they feel we are less than them , and in culture wise, thats just how they are. People in Costa Rica will always be willing to help anyone in a nice way, they will treat you right, they will do anything for you to like them.
    I agree the people from America or Europe have a better economy, with that being said, they have better transportacion services, better health services, better infraestructure and some many things that help them live a very good quatily of live, however I dont think that how happiness should be massured. Happiness is how you see life, how you find ways to enjoyed, maybe not working 24/7 and have time off, Money doesn´t make you happy, your own attitude is what makes you happy. That´s what makes a Costa Rican happy, they see live from another perspective. I strongly believe that living in a big city, where you get to have every facility you need, doesn´t make you any happier that a poor person living in the country side.

    • Hi there Amanda,

      Thanks for your comment! I definitely agree with what you said your the second paragraph about happiness not necessarily having to do with money, and that one’s attitude is important. But then we get to the same issue as before: if you can’t measure an emotion like happiness, can you measure a person’s attitude? I, as well as some of the other commentators, would say no, but I guess you can get a general sense of whether people are happy or not.

      Actually, though, the reason I wanted to respond to your comment was what you said about countries like Germany and France being “colder” and “ruder,” but I have to disagree there. I also teach German, and I took some Costa Rican students there for three weeks last year. They commented on how surprised they were that the people were warm, friendly, and welcoming. But if you just observe people in stores, walking down the street, or while eating, they tend to keep to themselves. As I mentioned in the post, I also lived in Germany for two years, and I have the same impression: that the people there are actually very friendly, although it may take some more initial effort to make friends.

      I think that’s especially true if you visit a country not knowing much about the language, culture, etc, and maybe that was the reason for the kind of experience you had there? Sometimes a lot of our impressions, both negative and positive, come from misunderstandings, or at least not understanding the situation completely. I agree that it’s easier to start up a conversation at a bus stop in San Jose than it is to do the same thing in Munich, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect happiness or even friendliness. If you asked a German, he or she might talk about the value of privacy, and how he or she wouldn’t want to start a long conversation and thereby intrude on a stranger’s privacy just because they were bored while waiting for the bus :)

      In the end, though, I think every place has happy and miserable people, so each of us has to decide how we want to live our lives and work towards that.

      Sorry for my tangential response, but thanks again for your comment!
      Ryan

  19. Hi Ryan, first at all I want to tell you that I agree with your opinions, Costa Rica is a little town where people think most of the time that everything is ok, here everyone live in a relaxed way, they always are very friendly with all the people and also very helpful in whatever situation; for example here in Costa Rica if you where on a trip and you had a problem with your car in the highway, probably in a few of minutes you will have help by someone, or maybe if you are lost in the city and you didnt know what you have to do, or where you can find the bus stop, without problems you can ask someone and they will tell you what you can do.
    Also in my opinion most of the places in this country like the beaches, volcanoes, anywhere is very beautiful.
    For me thats the reason why Costa Rica is the happiest country in the world, not because our infrastructure or our national economy.
    Eduardo V

  20. Hello Ryan, I am a Costa Rican and actually if you ask me if im happy I would say yes, and that not because im “Costa Rican” because of course CR is not perfect but messuring the hapiness of a human being acording to the country were they leave is a really ignorant idea to have. To be honest, just because you say you lived here, you actaully think you know the way people think or even if they are happy?, just because we dont like to fight with people over stupid things actually means that we just dont care what peolpe think about us and that why we dont fight over it.
    Now in an other hand i see that you really took seriously the way our building and infrastructure looks, and again you problably think it matters for someone to be honestly happy, money has nothing to do with hapiness and even mesuring the happiness of a hole country.
    Just think it over, because not everyone wants to live like an “American”.

    • Hi Monserrat,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure if you actually read my article, but I think there may be a misunderstanding, or you may have read something into my words that wasn’t necessarily there. Please allow me to defend myself after your comment.

      I agree that it’s not really possible to measure happiness on any level, let alone based on the country someone lives in. So my article was a reaction to surveys that say Costa Rica is the happiest country in the world. I don’t really think that any country can claim that title. It’s as problematic as saying, “X country has the most delicious food”; it’s pretty subjective, and there’s no way to measure it definitively.

      As for the “fighting” comment, I mostly meant that as a joke, but perhaps the tone of that remark didn’t come out in print. I actually think it’s good that most Costa Ricans tend to avoid fighting, although if that tendency reaches the point where people avoid confronting a problem just because they want to avoid any type of conflict, I think that’s also bad. But I, like most people, also fall into this category a lot of the time, which is something I can improve. As my grandpa used to say, “I’m a lover, not a fighter.”

      And I didn’t just “say” I lived in Costa Rica; I HAVE lived here for eight years and counting and even became a citizen, and my wife and son Costa Ricans; all of that means that I have a vested interest in wanting this to be as good a country as possible. So if I point out things like dangerous neighborhoods or the bad roads, it’s not a personal attack, it’s just identifying things that could possibly affect a person’s happiness.

      You then seem to criticize me for equating money with happiness (which I don’t believe I do, although I admit that there can be a connection between the two), but then you seemingly equate living conditions to money in the same sentence, and they’re also not the same thing. I agree that money doesn’t necessarily have to do with happiness. Living conditions, however, do seem like they would have a very important impact on happiness in some cases. If a happy person living in a dangerous neighborhood gets murdered because someone was trying to steal his/her car, then all the happiness –or money– in the world can’t bring him/her back. At the same time, I do believe that money can affect your happiness. At the very least, it could be used to improve things that could benefit everyone, like putting it towards education, healthcare, and environmental protection. And yes, fixing the shitty roads.

      Finally, I’m not sure what your final comment has to do with my article–I can’t think of anywhere where I advocated living like an American, whatever that would imply. I think the only place where I mentioned America was to say that Germans think Americans are superficial, but that’s hardly an endorsement. If I personally wanted to live in the US, I’d have stayed there. I chose Costa Rica because I like it, but every country has positive and negative aspects. If anything, I’d advocate to live like the Danes or the Swedes, but that’s a topic for another article.

      So, thanks again for your comment. And lest anyone think I’m angry because I’m writing a long comment defending myself, here are four smiley faces to prove I’m happy: :) :) :) :)

  21. hello, personalmete think Costa Rica is an excellent country to live, but many developed countries clear that the good happiest country in the world …… that’s another thing.

    In this country there are many resources besides peace and friendly people, where there is no political or religious persecution adeemas not having disasters affecting the population gave way a nuclear problem, no traffic restriction, exprecion free, free elections, propieded pribada among many other benefits.

    clear that we could think that this title is a mask put for countries that exploit the natural and human resources, for if we combensen this all will pay less Athenion to real problems.

    also happy that title is held in the country have no army which is very good for poser use more money on improving the living conditions of the people in the theory,

  22. Pingback: Wednesday Advanced Course Assignment 1 - Sitzman ABC

  23. Pingback: Sitzbook Review: “A Piece of Danish Happiness” by Sharmi Albrechtsen | Sitzblog

  24. Pingback: Sitzbook Review: ‘The Almost Nearly Perfect People” by Michael Booth | Sitzblog

Leave a Reply