Panama, Jack’s happy place

In a recent Gallup Poll, good ol’Panama and even Costa Rica finished ahead of Denmark as the most contented country on earth and some people seemed surprised. Ol’Jack wasn’t. The explanation is simple—weather. It gets gloomy sometimes in Scandinavia.

In fact, Panama has gotten plenty of good press lately, not only as a happy place, but also as a top tourist destination and leading place for foreigners to retire. While some grumpy expats, who are two years behind on their dream-house building schedule or frustrated with their TV service, might disagree, I don’t think they were included in the survey.

I am not sure I represent the vast spectrum of retired expats, who like to use their “jubilado” discount even with the hot dog vender or, if they live across the bridge, try to maintain a certain degree of happiness by never going into “The City,” but I have decided to respond to the Gallup questionnaire, arranged in five categories with two statements per category to which the respondent is to agree or not:


“You like what you do every day.” Well, mostly, except when it rains so hard the cane toads drown or when I have to listen to other Americans complain about “Obama.”

“You learn or do something interesting every day.” Not always. Since I’m retired, every day is a Saturday, which is not the most productive day of the week. I do read some.


“Someone in your life always encourages you to be healthy.” The key word here is “always” which sounds like nagging to me. My lovely wife does encourage me to do healthy things much more than the bartender at the Yacht Club. However if you consider snipping cigars with scissors as encouragement, I don’t.

“Your friends and family give you positive energy every day.” Nope. My family is back in the States finishing 17th in the poll. And as noted earlier, many of my friends are always complaining about traffic and the noise of a party next door (where the happy people live).


“You have enough money to do everything you want to do.” No. Are you kidding?

“In the last seven days, you have worried about money.” This was considered a negative indicator, but I have not. My lovely wife and I are spending the inheritance as fast as we can.


“The city or area where you live is a perfect place for you.” “Perfect?” If we ever find the perfect place—that will be the happiest place in the world.

“In the last 12 months, you have received recognition for helping to improve the city or area where you live.” This is one statement with which I believe many expats could agree, even if the locals don’t always seem to appreciate being “saved.”


“In the last seven days, you have felt active and productive every day.” Pretty much, yeah. Writing this column; playing golf; not running over any pedestrians—these are all positive things.

“Your physical health is near-perfect.” How near?

Imagine a country where a majority of people agrees with most of the above statements. That would be a great place to visit and / or retire.


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