Pop culture does a good job of convincing people that good looks, wealth, and power are the keys to unlocking our happiest selves. But research actually shows thatmeasuring what creates happiness comes down to a few, much more basic thingslike clean drinking water, affordable health care, and a healthy work-life balance.

Every year since 2012, the United Nations publishes a World Happiness Report ranking 156 countries from the happiest to least happy. The score is based on responses from adults representing all walks of life to the Cantril Ladder Question, a prompt that asks participants to evaluate the quality of their lives on a scale from 0 to 10 with 0 representing the worst possible life (or bottom rung,) and 10 the best (or top rung).

The report tends to zeroin each year on a specific element of happiness for further review. In 2018, the report dove deep into issues surrounding migration and explored how migration affects happiness levels for those left behind, those doing to the migrating, and residents in host countries where migrants end up. For 2019, theWorld Happiness Report zeroes in on themes around happiness and the community. Specifically, researchers focus on how technology, social norms, governments, cultural shifts, andconflicthave caused perceptions of happiness to evolve.

In addition to revealing the quality of lives of its participants,the report factorsin six key variables including gross domestic product per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, social freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption. Then, researchers went a step further to explore the connection between government and happiness; the effects of prosocial behavior; and how information technology has transformed how we communicate with each other and become informed.

From this data, Stacker has compiled the top-50 happiest countries fromthe list, classified for this gallery from least happy (50) to happiest (1). Read on to see which countries are home to some of the happiest peopleon the planet.

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