Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things…The Gross National Product (the primary means of economic progress) measured everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. ~Robert Kennedy
How do we define it?
How do have more of it?
When it comes to the Happiness Index, Costa Rica ranks number one in the world. This small country abolished its army years ago and put the money into education, social security, and protection of its national parks. According to President Laura Chinchilla, these actions are the basis for why Costa Rica is the happiest country in the world. The results seem to speak for themselves. Its growing popularity as both a tourist destination and spot that expats, seeking a higher quality of life, are moving to is evidence that this small country is doing something right. If Costa Rica lives by the principle of attraction rather than promotion, it is attracting people from all over the world. Is this small Latin American country an example for the world to model?
GDP feels like a dinosaur. So many of us in the west bought into the myth that more equals happiness and that there is an unlimited amount of more. Our economy and self-worth rely on consumerism. The result is mounting debt, working longer hours, rising costs, deteriorating ecosystem and less time with family and friends. As we increase consumption our quality of life is actually declining. Real poverty equals a decline in quality of life and life expectancy.
In contrast, Costa Rica has one of the highest standards of living in Latin America and a purchasing power considerably greater than the USA and Canada. The two main economic drivers are ecotourism and health tourism. Yes, people travel to Costa Rica for excellent affordable health care. As New York Times Op-Ed columnist Nicholas Kristof stated “You think it’s any coincidence that Costa Rica is one of the very few countries to have abolished its arms, and it’s also arguabley the happiest nation on earth?
Costa Rica’s per capita Ecological Footprint is 2.5 global hectares, a third of the size of the USA’s. With the a goal to be carbon neutral by 2021, 99% of Costa Rica’s power comes from renewables.. These types of goals sets this country apart from most nations. Costa Rica is like the little engine that could and now far ahead of most nations in the world in creating a sustainable economy.
This rising Latin America star is earning a reputation as one of the best places in the world to live. It exposes the old model of pursuing unlimited growth at the cost of the health of people and the ecosystem as an outdated dinosaur approaching self-extinction. The earth and its people simply can not force this old model along much longer.
Perhaps, Costa Rica will emerge as the new model system. As Buckminster Fuller stated, “One must make a new system that makes the old system obsolete.” Living in balance with nature and pursuing a path towards sustainable development, found in industries such as ecotourism and supported by the business models of resorts such as Crocodile Bay, are key to the future. They provide new models. Ones that increase our overall health, prosperity and well-being and that is the basis for the economics of happiness. So now it is time to find Al Green on my iPhone and dance to Love and Happiness.