Sarah Stultz: Different methods can make people happy

Published 10:47 pm Monday, October 23, 2017

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

What makes people happy?

I’ve ready articles about happiness before, and I was curious to see what National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner, founder of the Blue Zones, had to say about it in his new book, “The Blue Zones of Happiness.”

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Similar to when Buettner researched the world’s longest-lived people in his original book, he spent two years working to find what makes the happiest places in the world.

Though I haven’t read the book yet about what he found, I looked into it a little bit on the Blue Zones website and on National Geographic’s website.

Buettner first identified the statistically happiest populations — considering things such as life satisfaction, purpose and how much people enjoy their lives — traveling to Denmark, Singapore and Costa Rica.

The website states Singapore is the happiest country in Asia, and people there attain their happiness through life satisfaction. People experience life the best in Costa Rica, through access to nature and making social interaction, family and religion a priority. In Denmark, people live with more purpose than anywhere else.

Though cities in America are not on the top of the happiness charts worldwide, he teamed up with Gallup to look further into the happiest cities in the country, asking questions about everything from eating healthy and learning something new everyday to civic engagement, financial security and vacation time, to name a few.

He learned several lessons. He found that bikeable and walkable cities are typically happier, as are  people with access to parks and green spaces.

Places with reduced fast food and junk food consumption and instead cheaper, easily accessible fruits and vegetables were also happier and healthier.

Where were the happiest cities in the country?

1. Boulder, Colorado

2. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, California

3. Charlottesville, Virginia

4. Fort Collins, Colorado

5. San Luis Obispo-Paso, Robles-Arroyo Grande, California

What were the least happy?

• Charleston, West Virginia

• Fort Smith, Arkansas

• Hickory-Lenoir-Morgantown, North Carolina

Minneapolis-St.Paul ranked No. 22.

What if you’re not happy with your life right now?

Buettner said 40 percent of our happiness is dictated by genes, 15 percent by luck and 40 to 50 percent by each individual. That means we each have a huge say in how happy we are.

Some things you can do to be happier? Make a new happy friend, volunteer and make sure to get 7 1/2 hours of sleep at night, according to Buettner.

Now that my interest is peaked, I think I’m going to go check out the book!

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.