How do you choose places to go to study happiness?
Kristýna: For example, we went to Costa Rica after my interview with the supervisor at the university in Norway. Costa Rica seemed very specific to him.
According to the ranking of the World Happiness Report, which is compiled annually by the UN based on Western standards, it is at the forefront and the well-being of its inhabitants is at a high level – however, in terms of economy, it lags far behind the other countries on the first ranks. And indeed, although the people there do not have much, they are well and happy.
Because they have pura vida.
Matouš: Exactly. Pura vida means pure life. But rather than a static translation into Czech, it’s more about the soul of the idea – we’ll have a great time, we won’t solve anything. For them, pura vida means morning, tomorrow or never. The people of Kos are simply living it.
I’m interested in “never too”.
Matouš: Something just doesn’t have to happen in Costa Rica. They live life here and now. They say that their happiness also lies in the fact that they do not solve what they do not affect. They are comfortable – I wouldn’t say flagmatic, because they solve things and things work there, perhaps unlike other states. But if something isn’t supposed to happen, they’re okay with it not happening.
What about Turkey?
Matouš: True Turkey begins beyond the borders of big cities. The Turks are in great tension, they are both positive and negative. If they like something, that’s great. If they don’t like something, you will experience it. They are used to complaining, but when you go deeper in the conversation, you can tell that they realize that they are not that bad. The essence of happiness in Turkey is family, relationships with friends, togetherness and good food.
Finding happiness is not always about being happy, sometimes you need to find it in an intense situation.
Kristýna: And they also have their humor, I would say a bit similar to ours, with which they vent the tension. It keeps them afloat.
Kristýna: The Japanese know how to live here and now. Just like the Costa Ricans. Costa Ricans take everything easy, they don’t stress too much. Whereas the Japanese and Turks solve absolutely everything, they don’t care about anything. For this, the Japanese have learned kabuki – masks of service. Emotions are simply not appropriate in public.
But they like moments that keep them in the presence, which is when the cherry blossoms bloom. This is spectacular – a tradition of walking under the trees and enjoying picnics under them with loved ones.
Their luck is also in precision. When he is learning to tie a kimono, the national dress, after a year of learning to tie a knot, he tells us that he still can’t tie it. At the same time, he is perfect. We can see the same thing in tea ceremonies. Even after eighteen years of work, they do not consider themselves professionals.
Is the path to happiness always a happy one?
Matouš: Certainly not. Things happened to us that were not pleasant. Finding happiness isn’t always about being happy. Sometimes the situation is demanding, intense, and you need to find happiness in it. Perhaps in the form of peace in the face of death or something similar.
Why do happy nations often think of death? And did Kristýna and Matouš find the key to happiness in the world? Listen to the full interview.