Do you live in one of the 5 Happiest & Healthiest Countries?

Brain Health, Health & Wellness

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There are many countries where happiness abounds but chronic diseases keep life expectancy rates relatively low (such as in the Philippines where the average lifespan in men is only 65.7 years and women is 72.5 years compared to Monaco where men and women live 20 years longer on average (85.6 and 93.4 years for men and women, respectively). Other countries are healthy but not particularly happy (think of Japan).  The following 5 countries have the distinction of being the happiest and healthiest in the world and for each, there is at least one unique attribute as described below that can be applied to any country you live in. Unfortunately for us, the United States in not among this elite group.

  1. Sweden: Swedish homes are replete with fresh flowers and Sweden is a top importer of tulips.  Bright colors and pleasant fragrances not only boost mood but can also improve brain function.
  2. Australia:  Australians view noise pollution as a prime reason for unhappiness and therefore prefer to live in smaller towns and cities when possible.   Loud noise on a regular basis raises the risk of hypertension and heart disease.
  3. Canada:  Canadians in general and the Canadian physicians with whom I’ve worked with in particular are among the most gracious and altruistic people I know.  In fact, many of them have rejected a pay raise in favor of paying better wages to nurses and other healthcare professionals who are vastly underpaid.   Being selfless and showing gratitude not only boosts mood but also improves overall health.
  4. Iceland: Even though their winters are long and dark, Icelandic people spend a good amount of time during these months socializing in hot tubs at local neighborhood pool gatherings.  Socialization not only reduces depression but may also lower the risk of dementia.
  5. Switzerland:  Switzerland cares about educating and training its people in workforce to the extent that they are number 1 in the world when it comes to on-the-job staff training whether in government or private companies. Having a caring workplace not only reduces daily stress but also lowers risk of metabolic syndrome and other risk factors for heart disease.
  6. Dr. Michael Miller is a cardiologist and Professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.  His latest book is: “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease

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