Defining Happiness in Three Countries

Reaching the finish line has been my brand since 2014. Some people presume that it is a brand for athletes. I can see why they would arrive at that assumption, but reaching the finish line is much more. It is quite inclusive. It does not matter if you are an athlete, single parent, college dropout, or even a college graduate from the master's, baccalaureate, or associate's level.

I created the brand to help people define their finish line, which is a lifestyle filled with happiness. Happiness is subjective. If you do not believe me, ask someone living in a different part of the world.

Last month, I had an appointment with the gastroenterologist. In the office lounge, I noticed several magazines laying on a table, next to a water dispenser. After some moments of looking for an interesting magazine to distract me from the long wait time, I saw a National Geographic magazine with a front cover resembling a waterfall and the following printed words: "The Search for Happiness." At last, a distractingly, good article to help me forget about the wait time.

The article profiled a Costa Rican man, Danish woman, and Singaporean man.

Defining Happiness in Costa Rica

First, they interviewed Alejandro Zuniga from Costa Rica. He is a family man and has several good friends. He commutes to work by walking and eats a daily average of six servings of fruits and vegetables. Every week, he works 40 hours as a produce vendor and volunteers for a few more hours. On the weekends, he plays soccer and worships God.

A few years ago, Alejandro won the lottery and received 50 million colones (or $93,000). Many of his friends thought that he would abandon them to live an affluent life. Surprisingly, he returned to resume working as a produce vendor. He decided to split his winnings between the four mothers of his seven children, his own mother, the friend who sold him the ticket, a fellow vendor who fed him during hard times, and a poor man who panhandled at the market.

He did not buy a car, expensive jewelry, designer clothes, or cool electronics. Instead, he invested the money into his cherished relationships. His choices and habits are in congruence with his happiness. Healthy eating, good friendships, and volunteering are several things that have proven to bring happiness to a person's life. As excerpted from the National Geographic article,

Many Costa Ricans enjoy the pleasure of living daily life to the fullest in a place that mitigates stress and maximizes joy. [Costa Rica] is not only Latin America's happiest; it is also where people report feeling more day-to-day positive emotions than just about any other place in the world.

Defining Happiness in Denmark

Next, they interviewed Sidse Clemmensen from Denmark. She is a sociologist that is married with three young children. Her family lives in a cohousing community, where families share chores, childcare, and meals. They make their daily commutes by cycling.

"The state provides me with everything that I need," Clemmensen said.

Despite paying high taxes, all of her basic needs (including healthcare, education, and retirement income) are covered by the government. Like Sidse, Danes receive a minimum of four vacation weeks every year. New parents (including gay citizens) can receive 12 months of paid parental leave at a near full salary.

As excerpted from the same article,

The price for such lavish benefits is one of the world’s highest income tax rates, which starts at 41 percent and tops out at 56 percent—a field leveler that makes it possible for a garbageman to earn more than a doctor.

Defining Happiness in Singapore

Lastly, they interviewed Douglas Foo from Singapore. He is a husband, parent, college graduate, and successful entrepreneur. He owns a $59 million multinational enterprise, $10 million house, and a $750,000 BMW car. On average, he works 60 hours a week between his business and volunteer endeavors.

Foo's lifestyle has a strong resemblance to the American Dream. Like the United States, accomplishments and ambition are valued greatly in Singapore. Foo has an unquenchable ambition and desires to do more, despite his involvement in 22 organizations.

As excerpted from the same article, the multi-millionaire entrepreneur says the following:

In the scope of things, I'm just an insect.

In the Eastern island country, their happiness has a similar formula like the United States. First and foremost, always be a good citizen. Second, perform high in your academics to get into a top school. Then, use that prestigious, college degree to land a great job at a renowned company.

Happiness is Subjective

In the United States, Millennials and Generation Z are more skeptical about their parents' advice regarding success. More Singaporeans embrace that advice than Americans, but some young people still believe that it is the way to achieve the American Dream.

As stated before, happiness is subjective. Happiness does not need to depend on your net worth as noted in Costa Rica and Denmark.

More people are finding happiness by changing their values or choosing alternative lifestyles.