Here is a map of the world’s happiness. Laos has a very low happiness rating.

I once heard a story of a man returning to Laos after leaving the country as a child and refugee 30 years earlier. He met his aunty who lived in a poor, rural area. His impression of Lao people was that although they were very poor they were still able to be happy, maybe even happier than most people in Australia. I’ve often wondered about that because on the surface Lao people really do appear to be very happy.

Lao people are usually very friendly and hospitable. You see a lot of smiles, and especially a lot of enthusiasm from children towards foreigners. But there’s more to happiness than being nice to guests and smiling. I think the convivial behaviour to guests can be wrongly equated to happiness.