Costa Ricans are happy today but for historic reason

Today is a day that should resonate in Costa Rica. Today is the U.N.-sponsored International Day of Happiness. But the country is celebrating another reason instead.

Costa Rica styles itself as the happiest country in the world, based on a purported index by a progressive British think tank in 2009. A.M. Costa Rica headlined the news story then this way: “Sadly, the happy planet report is mostly ideology.”

Even though the sponsor, the New Economic Foundation, backtracked even in its own press release, the idea caught on for marketing purposes.  The sponsor said:  The nations that top the index aren’t the happiest places in the world, but the nations that score well show that achieving, long, happy lives without over-stretching the planet’s resources is possible.” Vietnam ranked fifth.

U.S. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon defined the day when he spoke at a General Assembly meeting on “Happiness and Well-Being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm.”

He said the world “needs a new economic paradigm that recognizes the parity between the three pillars of sustainable development. Social, economic and environmental well-being are indivisible. Together they define gross global happiness.”

The meeting was convened at an initiative of Bhutan, a country which recognized the supremacy of national happiness over national income since the early 1970s and famously adopted the goal of gross national happiness over gross national product, the U.N. said.

A profound shift in attitudes is underway all over the world. People are now recognizing that progress should be about increasing human happiness and well being, not just growing the economy, it added.

There does not seem to be any official notice of the day planned in Costa Rica. Instead, the public schools are marking the Battle of Santa Rosa, which took place on this date in 1856.

This was the first real battle in the so-called Campaña Nacional against the forces of William Walker. In a short encounter, the only major confrontation on Costa Rican soil, the Tico troops routed the Nicaraguan invaders.

The large home, the Casona of Hacienda Santa Rosa, figured in the battle and the government rebuilt the historic structure when it burned down in 2002.

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