4 Lessons from The Happiest Places on Earth

Happiest Places on Earth

What is happiness? The answer varies greatly, but apparently some places have it figured out.

Annual reports rank countries on a variety of factors, such as GDP, health and overall sentiment. But because happiness is subjective, the places on this list are compiled from different sources, including Gallup, National Geographic and the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Here are four delightful takeaways to add a little happiness to your next event.

Denmark—Get Cozy with It

Pronounced “hoo-ga,” hygge roughly translates to “coziness,” but translator ToveMaren Stakkestad explained, “hygge was never meant to be translated. It was meant to be felt.”

In Denmark, it’s more than just a word—it’s a lifestyle. The U.N. ranked Denmark third on its annual World Happiness Report. Hygge might just be the Danes’ secret weapon.

Hygge is taking life’s simple pleasures and allowing them to evoke a comforting atmosphere. Anything can be hygge. Snuggling up on a rainy day can be hygge.

So perhaps at your next event, scrap the harsh LED ceiling lights. Fit your space with welcoming amber lighting. Then fill the air with ambient aromas, whether it be a calming lavender or the intoxicating smell of fresh pastries.

Hygge can make attendees feel calm, warm and at home.

Iceland—Look Around

It’s no longer a surprise that Nordic countries score highest on the U.N.’s report every year. Besides high GDP, the countries are home to some of the most intoxicating scenery in the world.

The secret to Iceland’s happiness is in the water. The country’s famed hot pools serve as a place of congregation—to relax, to meet and, of course, to drink.

In the 1950s, Iceland switched from coal-powered heat to geothermal. Leveraging the island’s volcanic resources, communal pools became iconic sites to socialize. The pools are embedded in daily life, with many Icelanders going before or after work.

You could take a similar approach. At your next meeting, try embracing, rather than changing, your surroundings. Some locations readily offer raw beauty to be admired. Additionally, the most unconventional meeting spaces can prove to be the most memorable. Not to mention keeping it simple is the ultimate sustainable practice.

Colombia—Think Positive

Even after years of conflict, this country flaunts its resiliency. Colombia doesn’t have the GDP to compete with the well-off countries that score high on the U.N.’s report. But an age-old adage rings true: money isn’t everything.

A 2018 Gallup poll reported that Colombia was the second happiest country in the world. The survey found that 88 out of 100 Colombians are happy with life, with 46 percent believing that life will improve.

Celebrations, rather than challenges, are often emphasized.

Meeting planning can be taxing when unexpected hiccups arise or budgets suddenly shrink. Take a page from the Colombian playbook. Grab a cup of quality coffee, strategize and remain optimistic.

Make the best out of your situation, and attendees will too.

Boulder, Colorado—Get Outside

National Geographic measured cities based on lifestyle factors, including healthy eating and civic engagement. As a result, Boulder solidified itself as America’s happiest city.

What the magazine found was that the large majority of Boulderites feel “active and productive every day.” Many of them walk to work and pair it with high rates of exercise in the lush outdoors. Hotels in the area also adopt these healthy practices. St. Julien Hotel and Spa offers yoga sessions facing the Flatiron Mountains as part of its Boulder Lifestyle Meetings Menu.

Physical activity boosts serotonin, a.k.a the happiness hormone. Stuffy ballrooms can lead to the 2 p.m. slump. Reinvigorate attendees by incorporating a refreshing breeze. A quick bike ride or hike can jump-start meaningful team building. Simple exercises, such as yoga, can be performed almost anywhere (including those ballrooms).