In the beginning chapters of "Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zone Way," Dan Buettner looked at the level of happiness in countries that are very developed and wealthy. In chapter 4 he discussed Mexico, a country that has a much lower per capita income, yet in Monterrey, Mexico people are considered very happy.
Buettner discussed the serious problems Mexico faces, including poverty, few financial opportunities, and corruption in the country--yet the people still carry a spirit of happiness. This chapter begins to look at what factors create happiness that are not related to money or financial stability. He began the chapter talking about the weather and the sunshine in particular as one of the factors involved in happiness. He talked about vitamin D, which is produced in the body from the rays of the sun (along with several other chemical processes). He refers to vitamin D as the "happy vitamin." In the last 10 years I have not heard vitamin D called this but it definitely has been proven to improve immune and bone health as well as providing protection from cancer and high blood pressure. Safely getting 20 minutes of sunlight per day definitely can improve health.
Buettner then looked the areas of religion and family and said that these are strong factors in the Mexican people being so happy. The book refers to worldwide research that showed that religious people are happier than nonreligious people. On page 153, Buettner quoted Ed Diner's book "Happiness," explaining why religion is an indicator of happiness: “it’s religion’s broader lessons that lead to happiness – acting selfless and morally, having a sense of purpose, finding meaning in daily activities, and expanding positive emotions on a continual basis.” Mexico is the home to more religious people than other countries. The combination of religion and family creates a social network that promotes happiness. Families and gathering for religious activities creates socializing and fun for Mexican people. Socializing with friends and at parties also creates an atmosphere of capitalizing on the good they celebrate at any occasion.