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photo courtesy of Blue Zones

How do you increase your happiness? You can hire a health coach. You you also read Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way by Dan Buettner. Written in partnership with National Geographic, the book offers lessons learned from some of the happiest places in the world according to those who research such things. At first glance it is hard to imagine what Denmark, Singapore, Mexico and San Luis Obispo have in common, but each had a great deal to offer on the subject of happiness. Denmark creates a culture that encourages happiness with 37 hour work weeks, government-funded family leave and education and walk/bike-friendly cities. Singapore offers security and tax incentives for keeping elderly family members at home. While Mexico cannot boast a corruption-free society there is a great emphasis on community and laughter that increases happiness. Finally, San Luis Obispo is an example of city planning that encourages happiness.

If you are in a hurry, you can skip to the last chapter (though you will miss out on meeting many fascinating people) and get a practical list to increasing your own happiness. Many of the ideas in this book pertain to changes in city and state planning that will connect citizens to each other and to their community. Advice for the individual includes finding a community that is safe, quiet, walk/bike-friendly, and near to the workplace.

Another vitally important aspect of happiness is found in social connections. Described in-depth in this book, our sense of community dictates a large percentage of our  happiness. Ways to deepen our involvement (and yes this applies to introverts as well) may include volunteering, becoming an active member of a faith community or joining a club. It is important here to note that the attitude of the people you spend time with is contagious.

“According to one statistical analysis, each additional happy friend we have in our social circle boosts our cheeriness by nine percent, while each additional unhappy friend drags it down by seven percent.” (page 224)

This book is full of great ideas to increase happiness as a society and as an individual. I sincerely wish our government leaders would read and implement the ideas found in these pages. Until then, techniques such as creating a personal mission statement and surrounding yourself with those you trust and who make you feel connected can do great deal to increase your personal happiness.

A health coach can help you to take these steps and take your satisfaction in life to the next level.

Book Review – Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way

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