Happiest places on Earth

The little boy looked to be about four or five years old and held tight to his mom’s hand with one hand and a worn Teddy Bear in the other. He held back a yawn, but kept his eyes fixed on the escalator. He seemed to be taking everything in.

When he couldn’t stand the waiting any longer, he asked, “Where’s daddy, mommy?”

“Keep looking, he’s coming soon, it won’t be long now.”

Sure enough, a few minutes later, the boy shouted and pointed to a group of travelers approaching the baggage pick-up. A large man, who I feel safe assuming was the boy’s father, picked up the boy and gave him a big hug.

In that moment, I was reminded why I love airports. 

Image by Kasuma by Pexels.

Hugs all around

Yes, I know it’s customary to complain about travel and the hassle that comes with it, everything from being crammed into seats that are frighteningly small to being verbally assaulted and sneered at by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents. I get all that, but I love seeing the get-togethers in the Arrival Terminal. They never get old for me.

I’ve written about this before and I’m sure I’ll write about it again. The opening line from the movie Love Actually is spot on, “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”

Here’s what I mean: The travelers are generally excited to arrive, and their friends or family are glad to see them. When business travelers are met by limo or taxi drivers, they’re even excited to see their driver. Okay, it’s not Christmas morning happy, but it’s still “great, let’s get on our way happy.” 

Disney Corporation, of course, trademarked the slogan “The Happiest Place on Earth” for Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Walt Disney came up with the idea as a way to encapsulate the feeling of joy and wonder that he wanted visitors to experience at the park. I can’t argue with Disney’s marketing. They make a lot of kids happy, but I’m not sure they can beat the number of daily airport hugs. 

Surprising places

I’m fascinated by happy places. I’m so fascinated that I did a little homework. It turns out that Finland is supposedly where it’s at!

For the sixth year in a row, Finland ranked as the happiest country in the world, according to the World Happiness Report released in March. Finland and its neighbors Denmark, Iceland, Sweden and Norway all scored well on the measures the report uses to rank countries by how happy their citizens claim to be: 

  • Healthy life expectancy.
  • GDP per capita.
  • Social support.
  • Low corruption.
  • Generosity and people looking after each other.
  • Freedom to make key life decisions.

Image by Roman Odintsov via Pexels.

Happiness closer to home

While I would love to hop in a plane and move to Finland, I’m not sure that I can convince my wife to move anytime soon, so I’ve been thinking about places in everyday life that make me happy. There are more than I thought.

Here’s a few of my happy places. 

–Walking on the beach. There’s nothing else like it. I find it hard to be angry with sand between my toes (even the really hot, hot sand that feels like it’s burning your soles of your feet. It still beats wearing work shoes and having to trudge into your job.)

–Standing in the middle of the woods. When the trees are tall and green and surround you, I find it hard to be gloomy. 

–The dinner table with family. To steal from a sign hanging above the entrance to our dining room: “The fondest memories are made while gathered ‘round the table.”

–A sunny day writing at my desk.

I’m going to keep looking for happy places and I’m going to keep smiling at the arrivals gate. Finally, I’m going to follow the advice of Groucho Marx who said: “I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”

What makes you happy? How do you bring a bit of happiness into your day?

37 thoughts on “Happiest places on Earth

Add yours

  1. Wonderful post, Brian. I get exactly the same feeling watching people meeting at airports. You may not know that the country that introduced the concept of the Happiness Index isn’t high on the list (it’s very much a developing country), but its govt policy, begun perhaps 25-30 years ago, is to measure its success by something it calls the Gross Happiness Index instead of Gross Domestic Product. This is the small Himalayan country of Bhutan. It’s also the only country in the world that is carbon-negative, thanks to their strict forest management policies. Happiness isn’t all
    about money! Thanks for the reminder.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I’m borderline-addicted to videos about happy reunions. I’m completely addicted to videos that show a baby laughing/giggling with all of their might. Maybe that means that my happy place is the Internet?? But the thing that makes me happiest is when I create a meal, share it with neighbors and/or friends, and, without asking, get high praise for how tasty it was! That’s why I call my kitchen “My Happy Place” and blog about it whenever I have invented something or tried a new recipe.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The internet! That’s funny! Whatever brings us closer to happiness is a good thing! By the way, your happy place, your kitchen, is one of those places for me that frightens me to death. Me, cooking? Baking? No way!! Ha ha. A new recipe…. Even worse. Ha ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! I also enjoy seeing reunions in airports. I think the happiest place on earth is right here on the prairies; I’m happy to be home again after years away. It gives me peace and contentment to be outside at night with the universe spread out overhead. Makes me feel so small, and my worries minuscule, in the grand scheme of things.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Love that image, making our worries feel small. I love the prairie, just not on a rainy, windy day. Can you tell we were in one of those situations yesterday!!! Ha ha, thought I might be making an impromptu trip to Oz!!! All good now, but I love your wisdom Christine, those kind of settings really do give so much peace!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a post! It made me happy! 😎 I loved your description of the joy in the arrivals area of an airport. I love that you pay attention to the things that fill you up, Brian. Family around the table, tall trees that inspire. And yes — I had a few students who traveled to Finland for study abroad experiences and they had fabulous experiences and stories to share. Plenty that we could learn. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    1. When I talk less and listen more, I find I’m better able to notice things around me and spot what makes me happy! Okay, you’ve got me thinking now, Finland is now on the bucket list. I’ll take off that Caribbean island and put Finland on instead! Ha ha! Okay, how about both. Ha ha

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You brought back memories of my husband and my son hanging out at our local airport to watch the planes take off and land. That’s before TSA days. The airport also had a playground so it was a perfect outing for them. As for Finland, I’m Finnish but have never visited. Your list of what makes you happy is exactly what I would write.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We have an affinity for Finland, but don’t know much about it! My grandparents came through Ellis Island in the 1930s. I was on a hike in Palm Desert when I ran into a group of Finnish visitors. They gave me a big hug and recognized me as a Finn. It was a moment where I felt, “Here are my people.”

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s all part of the plan. A few podcasts today, tomorrow a few more, and then after that, it’s gonna be World Domination! See what you started! A little bit of exposure and it all goes to my head! Ha ha ha! No, it was fun to do the podcast. Thank you again! 🤣🤣🤣🎉🤣🤣🤣

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Finland and it’s neighbouring countries need to be studied and examined more for why it’s working so well. It does provide a sobering pause for us to wonder what we can do differently in our own countries.

    I love the story you shared about the airport. When I have to do airport pickup, I love observing others and their reunions. They actually ran a show a few years back just all about airport goodbyes and arrivals. Interesting reality show concept!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. josbornel17602 reminded me that one of my happiest places is at a dinner table in the home of a dear friend whose passion is to share love through heavenly cuisine. Soul food on so many levels—a gift of the highest order—a rare treat indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is such a great, happy post, Brian. I sneak a bit of happy in my work day by stepping outside into the sunlight to inspect the garden, check for fallen fruit, greet the chickens. It’s so pleasant to be outside on a nice day, I always hate to have to come back in.

    It’s gotta be hard for anyone not to smile at the airport greetings, especially for a child reuniting with his or her parent, or maybe a grandparent. ❤


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