Are you happy?

According to a new report from Gallup, Latin Americans are the winners when it comes to having positive emotions.  Approximately 1,000 residents were polled in each of 138 countries.  At the top is Paraguay, followed by Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Colombia.  The only top 10 country located outside the Americas is Denmark.

The Gallup poll measured positive elements such as smiling or laughing, being treated with respect, experiencing enjoyment, feeling well-rested, and learning or doing something interesting daily.

Who came in at the bottom of the list?  The lowest percentage of residents experiencing positive emotions was in Syria.  In the same group were Chad, Lithuania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Nepal and Belarus. According to the results, only about one-third of Syrians reported those positive criteria above.

In a different study by the Legatum Institute, happiness is ranked by using a combination of economic indicators with measurements of well-being and life satisfaction.  Their results are taken from 142 countries covering 96% of the world population and 99% of global GDP. The Institute aims to help people live more prosperous lives.

The Legatum Institute study ranks countries based on peace, freedom, good healthcare, quality education, a functioning political system and opportunity.  They found the top four happiest countries to be Norway, Sweden, Canada, and New Zealand.  Countries where freedom of expression is limited, had a poor educational system, and experienced violence were found to be the saddest counties.  Those countries were Chad, Congo, Central African Republic, Afghanistan and Yemen.

While these happiness studies used different criteria to measure happiness, it’s clear that friends and family, political freedom, economic opportunity, and quality education and healthcare all play important roles in positive emotions and feeling secure, anywhere in the world.