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If You're Unhappy, Move

Laing Self Storage
Laing Self Storage

Every year various organizations crunch numbers to come with rankings of the world’s happiest places. You’ve probably clicked on one of these lists, and if you’re anything like me, scratched your head at the results. It’s fascinating that countries as diverse as Denmark and Costa Rica top these rankings (apologies to my fellow Americans, but the U.S. doesn’t crack the top ten), but why are these particular places so smiley?

Figuring that out has been the particular obsession of National Geographic

journalist Dan Buettner for the last 15 years, and thanks to his travel-loving employer he’s gotten the chance to investigate the question on the ground in many of these exceptionally cheerful locales. He shares his findings in his new book, The Blue Zones of Happiness, and also in a recent Wharton interview.

The conversation is jammed packed with insight into what makes for a happy place, including tips on how to pick your friends and structure your country’s social safety net (short version: more like Denmark, less like America). But perhaps the most fascinating insight is Buettner’s number one takeaway from his research. If you’re unhappy, he insists, pack up and move.

Time to call the movers?

That’s not the first intervention many of us would consider. Starting a gratitude journal or phoning a therapist is a lot easier and cheaper than finding a new home, packing up all your belongings, and possibly switching jobs, after all. But Buettner is serious -- he thinks way more people should consider moving as a solution to their chronic unhappiness.

"There’s no other intervention anybody can tell me about that has that dependable and lasting impact on happiness than your geography," he insists.