Man sleeping on a pedicab Our admittedly desultory investigation of comparative health and happiness around the world (Destination Happiness, Healthy Planet Index, and More Happiness Data) has been joined recently by New York Times columnist Nick Kristoff,  Freakonomics columnist Justin Wolfers and the staff at Glimpse magazine.

I don’t want to suggest that this line of inquiry is gaining urgency; on the contrary, I think the evidence is mounting that a key component of the health and happiness formula is a more leisurely pace of life. While Kristof and Wolfers highlight education and economic development, respectively, as “drivers” of happiness, the simpler, more fundamental factor may have been captured by Glimpse. Reporters polled their readership (students on international programs) to cull the Top 5 Health Tips From Abroad. Four of these tips clearly put the brakes on the American way of life: 1) Get out of the car, 2) Leave more time to eat, 3) Work less, 4) Nap more. And the examples of this lifestyle come from developed countries such as the Netherlands, Greece, Turkey and Spain.

Kristof taps two other important lines of inquiry we will pursue at our own pace: “environmental performance” and the “gender gap”. When we take the time to soak up our surroundings, it would be nice to find clean air, safe water and an abundance of tolerance. We think we’re starting to connect the dots. Do you think we are on the right track?

Photo info: / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


About The Author

Michael Hartung, editor of Healthy Travel Blog, serves as head of Product Development at HTH Worldwide. Mike is responsible for all product strategy and development for the company. Mike has over twenty years of successful product innovation to his credit. He has played a senior management role in three start-up companies and has built complex organizations in rapid growth environments. Prior to joining HTH in 2000, he served as President of U.S. Healthcare’s Workers Comp Advantage subsidiary, which he co-founded with Angelo Masciantonio. Mike has also served in senior roles at Aon Consulting, Vantage Health Partners and Managed Health Care Services. Mike earned an M.B.A. from New York University, an M.A. from Duke University and a B.A. from Carleton College.


  1. “the health and happiness formula is a more leisurely pace of life.” Does this statement include the way we live our religion/beliefs? I believe a more leisurely pace of life can be obtained through this factor.
    Great post anyway.

  2. Thanks, Melanie. We will try to track down that post on stress relief and travel. I really like your observation that travel lifts us out of our “small sense of self.” Slowing down and widening our perspective seem to be mutually reinforcing and create a virtuous circle. Leisurely travel may be the best way to enter that state of mind. I’m personally a big fan of the Perseid meteor shower. Conditions permitting, I take it in with friends and family every August gently floating on a pontoon boat on a pristine lake in Northern Wisconsin.

  3. Hey Mike, am loving your happiness investigation. I recently read a great post – can’t remember where– about travel as one of the best forms of stress relief; researchers studied people who’d been through traumatic experiences and found that travel was the best way to “reboot” the brain to a normal stress response. In my blog, (thanks for putting me on your blogroll) I have been focusing on making travel a priority for the new year with a new year’s resolution list of places I hope to go. I’ve been amazed at the comments from people who also have a dream trip they’ve focused on as a happiness goal for 2010.

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