Joy Has Different Faces, and This is What it Looks Like Around the World

Every culture has its own idea of what happiness or joy is, and stepping into a foreign land opens up a new door to a different kind of joy.

In her new book The Atlas of Happiness: The Global Secrets of How to Be Happy, U.K.-born, Denmark-based author Helen Russell takes us on a round-the-world trip—not to the usual tourist attractions but through distinct concepts of happiness that have evolved in 30 countries. Each chapter in the book is devoted to a different country and its concepts of happiness (sobremesa and tapeo in Spain, tarab in Syria, tūrangawaewae and haka in New Zealand), which Russell illustrates via locals’ personal anecdotes. At the conclusion of each section, she pinpoints practical tips for adopting that nation’s unique happiness hacks. 

Here are five of the book’s lesser-known happiness ideologies:

  1. Joie de vivre in Canada says, “we’re open to anything, anyone, and any weather—we’ll try it all, and we’ll make it good.”
  2. Pura vida in Costa Rica where “the government funds education, health care, and conservation instead of a military, and family and friends come first”
  3. Dolce far niente in Italy, or” the sweetness of doing nothing, is about savoring the moment”
  4. Wabi sabi in Japan which “convey the idea that happiness is achieved by accepting—and celebrating—imperfection and transience”
  5. Azart in Russia which means, “a burning urge to lunge at everything life throws your way, to take chances, no matter the consequences.”

Image Credit: Elena Chernyshova/Panos Pictures

Photo credit: Brendan Burden

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