We all know that the U.S. guarantees the pursuit of happiness, but if you’re interested in seeing what it looks like after the pursuit, you might want to book a ticket to Fiji.
Residents of the verdant South Pacific nation have got feeling good down. A 2014 WIN/Gallup International poll of countries found that Fiji’s people are the happiest on Earth, with 93 percent of Fijians answering they were either “happy” or “very happy.” To compare: 67 percent of Americans (a respectable, if not quite blissful, figure) considered themselves content with life.
Of course, scientists still can’t pinpoint the font of happiness. But whether it’s the pristine beaches, vibrant culture or just something in the (famous) water, Fiji is getting it right. We partnered with Tourism Fiji and scoured the archipelago to figure out what makes Fiji unique — and its people so distinctly happy.
Vitamin-D Deficient? Fiji Isn’t.
Remember this? It’s the sun, and Fiji sees a lot of it.
As America plows through another polar vortex, it’s easy to forget that the feeble yellow wisp in our sky was once called “the sun,” and “warm.” Almost half of adult Americans, even in states with milder climates, suffer from vitamin D deficiency. Lower levels of that vitamin, which the body synthesizes from direct sunlight, are connected to increased risk of depression.
A Fijian smiles, because Fiji.
Despite our oft-professed introversion, humans are social animals. Numerous studies show a strong link between community and happiness: the more interaction and trust we have with our communities, the better we feel as individuals.
The biggest lesson to learn from Fiji’s happiness is this: The good life stems from meaningful interaction with other people. Fiji’s community ties are remarkably strong. Life centers around an extended family unit and a chieftain. Eighty-seven percent of the country’s land is owned by the community and administered by a land trust. Moreover, Fijians embrace traditions of the past, from the unique and renowned fire-walking ceremony on Beqa Island to the mysterious turtle-whisperers of Kadavu.
The people on Kadavu have performed their turtle calling ceremony since the late 1800s. He looks happy, too.
Here’s one last fact: happiness rises the farther you travel from home. There’s only so much an article can tell you. To really know the happiness of the island, you have to go, stay and soak in the light of the Fijian sun and people. Bula!