What is it about some places? They just make us feel happy. Yet the place that is special for you may seem inconsequential on a global scale. Here we take a look at the world's happiest places.
Cold temps, warm hearts
Maybe there's something about pickled herrings and only eight hours of daylight in winter that the rest of us don't get, but it seems Scandinavians live in one of the world's happiest places.
The World Happiness Report from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) judged how happy countries are based on six factors including real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity.
In 2013, Denmark topped the league table of happiness with a score of 7.693 (out of a possible 10). Norway followed with a score of 7.655, while Switzerland (7.650), the Netherlands (7.512) and Sweden (7.480) filled out the remaining top five spots.
Australia rated 10th on the ladder of world's happiest places. Our happiness score of 7.350 is vastly higher than the world's least happy nation – Togo in West Africa, with a frown-inducing tally of 2.936.
Still not convinced about the pickled herrings? You should be. The 2013 Prosperity Index™ by the London-based Legatum Institute pinpointed the world's happiest place by taking into account the joy of everyday life and the prospect of being able to build an even better life in the future.
Across 142 countries, another Scandinavian nation – Norway, topped the 2103 Index for the fifth consecutive year. Australia ranked in seventh place.
Seven out of 10 people experience joy daily
Okay, even in Scandinavia it's a fair bet the media is dominated by same stories of conflict and civil unrest that we read here in Australia. Despite this, human beings generally remain upbeat about our world.
According to 2014 Gallop Positive Experience Index at least seven in 10 adults worldwide report experiencing enjoyment and laughing or smiling a lot, with around one in two (51%) saying they learned or did something interesting the day before.
When it comes to positive experiences, Latin Americans have something over their Scandinavian cousins. Topping Gallop's league table is Paraguay (Positive Experience Index reading of 87 out of a possible 100) followed by Panama, Guatemala and Nicaragua. In eighth place, Denmark was - you guessed it, the highest-rated nation outside of Latin America. Australia comes in at 18th place with an Index score of 79. The country with the lowest positive emotions is Syria, with a score of just 36.
What matters is where you are happy
Polls make for interesting reading but chances are they'll never pinpoint the place on the map that makes you happy. Whether it's your favourite beach, the comfiest chair in your living room or a quiet spot in the garden, we all have a place that is nurturing and healing. And that's what makes it the happiest place on earth…just for you.
We'd love to hear what makes your happy place happy. Share our blog on Facebook and Twitter and let others join the conversation.