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A new report says happiness is tied to economic factors. Christine Garvin thinks the real answer lies elsewhere.

Photo: Shemer/ Feature photo: myconfinedspace

Happiness…does it come from money? Work? Love? Travel?

Well, according to a recent Forbes article, overall economic health plays a key role in determining who are the happiest people on Earth.

The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) released a report about the hows and why of the world’s happiest places.

Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands found their way to the top. Apparently, these countries have been hit the least by the economic downturn: there is low unemployment, a good work-life balance, yadi yadi yada.

I have a different hypothesis.

The Joy Of The Ride

I think happiness might have a little something to do with how often you go to one of’s world’s most baffling theme parks.

Think about it: you’ve got Diggerland in four UK locations for all those unlucky enough to not have climbed aboard John Deere tractors at the State Fair in Kansas; New York City’s not-yet-fully-developed Nintendo Amusement Park, where men can remain little boys forever; and who needs the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya when you can ride go-karts AND rub the Buddha’s belly all in one place at Vietnam’s Suoi Tien Cultural Amusement Park?

Non-Disney characters at Shijingshan/ Photo: Beijing 2008

Plus, I can really get tired of those boring old Disney characters.

So thank God the characters at Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park are, according to park officials, definitely NOT based on anything remotely Disney (see picture).

The REAL Happiest Place On Earth

But without a doubt, the happiest place on Earth must be South Korea’s Jeju Love Land (well, for the over-18 crowd, at least).

This park boasts (literally) a giant stone penis, statues of sex positions I’ve never seen before, and naturally, a gift shop. For some NSFW pictures of some of the sculptures, check out My[confined]Space.

So popular is Love Land that they decided to become a chain. And what place did it seem to make most sense to open the next sex park? China, duh.

Sadly, readers, just as I was booking my ticket to Love Land’s October opening in Chongqing, I learned it has been demolished. Seems some Chinese officials thought the park was “vulgar, ill-minded and misleading.” Luckily, I believe the original in Korea will keep going for a long, long, LONG time.

Well, I guess I might have to settle on heading over to Denmark’s Bon Bon Land and enjoying the wind on the Hundeprutterutchebane, otherwise known as the Dog-Fart-Switchback.

Hmmm, maybe happiness IS about economic health. You’ve got to be reasonably comfortable monetarily in order to get into these theme parks, right?

Can you find happiness in a theme park? Share your thoughts below.

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About The Author

Christine Garvin

Christine Garvin is a certified Nutrition Educator and holds a MA in Holistic Health Education. She is the founder/editor of Living Holistically...with a sense of humor and co-founder of Confronting Love. When she is not out traveling the world, she is busy writing, doing yoga, and performing hip-hop and bhangra. She also likes to pretend living in her hippie town of Fairfax, CA is like being on vacation.


    Oh! My…I checked out the website for the Korean theme park…That would not “fly” in the U.S. I can hear the “politicians” now!

    1) This post gave me an idea for travel writing. If you have a love of theme parks, travel the USA and write about them or travel the world and compare/contrast the theme parks to the ones in the USA.

    2) I think you can find happiness in a theme park as long as you have the funds to get into the park…don’t forget about parking. I enjoyed going to Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH. It was just a short drive from Cleveland. The prices increased over the years, but people still go to the park. Sometimes you just gotta treat yourself and forget your troubles for a day!

  • tom gates

    I can’t tell you how happy I would have been if this were a photo essay in the Part 2….

  • joshywashington

    you see, those are FIVE dwarves…totally different and why is snow white looming like godzilla?
    How i would love to shoot video in the worlds most bizarre theme parks!
    Maybe we can book a Matador Group holiday??!

    • Christine Garvin

      Yes! You put it together, I’m there!!

  • Eva

    Ha! Great post, Christine.

    As a semi-serious (downer, I know) aside, I’ve never put much faith in the idea that economic well-being in itself produces greater overall happiness; I do, however, think that the idea of “relative poverty” — that is, being poor (though not necessarily the world’s poorest) but surrounded by people who are wealthy in comparison — as producing serious unhappiness is pretty plausible.

    • christine

      I think that is a great point, Eva, and I’m glad you brought it up.

      Although this post was tongue-in-cheek, I think understanding that money doesn’t buy happiness, but lack of money can certainly cause stress and depression, is extremely important in any attempt to even the playing field.

  • DHarbecke

    I don’t think real poverty is completely tied to money, but because it’s the emphasized medium for influence and achieving your aims, we blame poverty on its lack.

    As I see it, poverty is where expression is blocked, especially when it shouldn’t normally be so. I could be the last man on Earth and claim to own everything, but would start to notice my poverty when nobody answers the phone.

    When you talk about relative poverty, there’s validity to this. Consider also that gated communities not only keep people out, they keep them in – in fear that the “uncultured riff-raff outside are after our stuff and security is necessary, and wouldn’t it be nice if we could go anywhere without having to worry…”


  • kara herold

    i’ll help with the video!

  • Monica

    ….if you need an actress for your video……:)

    good stuff. thanks christine!

  • nathasn

    I used to love diggerland when I was a kid, one of the greatest theme parks ever, for 5 year olds at least

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