Israelis are among the happiest nations in the world because they are educated, have a high life expectancy rate, earn a decent living, and most importantly, have strong connections with friends and family.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), “Israel performs favorably in several measures of well-being, and ranks close to the average or higher in several topics in the Better Life Index.” For example, the average person in Israel earns “47,750 USD per year, more than the OECD average of 36,238 USD.” While having more money doesn’t guarantee happiness, the OECD does note that it does help to ensure a better standard of living. Additionally, the life expectancy rate in Israel stands at almost 82 years, two years higher than the OECD average of 80 years. This means that on the whole the Israeli medical system performs better than average.

Also in Israel, “80% of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, higher than the OECD average of 74%. There is little difference between men and women, as 80% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 84% of women.” The OECD noted, “Having a good education is an important requisite for finding a job.” In fact,the OECD ranked Israel as the second most educated country in the entire planet. Indeed, studying, hard work, and innovation have always been Jewish values that the State of Israel prides itself on. In fact, Israelis publish more books per capita than any other country and generally read more books than other nations do.

Yet these things listed by the OECD are not the only reason why Israel is a happy nation. Indeed, one can have a decent income, a good life expectancy rate and be very well-educated, yet be an unhappy person at heart, while a poor person who never finished school can be very content with their life. In fact, the root to happiness is not through material things at all. Allison Kaplan Sommer, writing in Haaretz, claimed that Dr. Tal Ben Shahar, known as Professor Happiness due to the popular course on positive psychology that he taught at Harvard University, believes “that the top predictor of happiness is spending time with people we care about and who care about us.” Indeed, having positive relations with family and friends, who care deeply about you and go out of their way to help you, is what makes one happy, not going on fancy trips around the world, not living in a big house, and not driving a fancy car.

Young Israelis generally value having children and getting married as one of their top priorities, and view the career and other material things as important yet secondary. The average marriage age in Israel is 24.7 for women and 27.5 for men. In addition, a study published by the University of Haifa titled The Family in Israel: between Tradition and Modernity found that “nearly sixty percent of Israelis believe that childless people have an empty life and more than eighty percent believe that the greatest joy in life is to follow children’s growing up.” On average, statistics show that Israelis desire to have more children than people living in any other industrialized country. Indeed, while the average American has 2.3 children, the average Israeli has 3 children.

In Israel, spending time with ones family and friends is considered the most important aspect of ones life. Since Israel is such a tiny country, if one lives’ in Be’ersheva, yet has relatives in Netanya, Zikhron Ya’akov or even Nahariyya, it is not such a big deal. The entire train ride from Be’ersheva in the south to Nahariyya in the north is just three hours long. This implies that whenever there is a holiday, even if it is just a one day holiday, or every weekend, when the entire nation rests on the Jewish Sabbath, one will have the ability to spend time with their family. In fact, the entire Israeli way of life revolves around the Jewish holidays, which occur at least once every other month, if not more frequently.

By Rachel Avraham