It's based on factors including economic wealth, life expectancy, social support, freedom to make life choices and levels of government corruption.
If you want to live in the happiest countries in the world, then perhaps it's about time to move to Nordic Europe.
"Denmark and Norway have also increased their average scores, but Denmark by more than Norway, so Denmark is now in second place and Norway third".
That's partly explained by "dramatic falls" in happiness in population dense countries like the United States, Egypt and India, it said.
Ranking high in happiness doesn't protect a country's people from violence or trauma, as the recent attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand show.
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Other notables included Australia (11), the United Kingdom (15), Germany (17), the USA (19), Mexico (23), Brazil (32), South Korea (54), Japan (58), Russian Federation (68), Nigeria (85), Indonesia (92), China (93) and India (140).
"What stands out about the happiest and most well-connected societies is their resilience and ability to deal with bad things", Helliwell told CNN. The United Kingdom came in 15th place, up from 18th place, while Germany came in 17th place, down from 15th. The report was published today, the International Day of Happiness, by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the UN.
South Sudan was at the bottom of the happiness index, whilst Central African Republic, Afghanistan and Tanzania were also ranked just above.
The prime minister of the tiny country of Bhutan proposed a World Happiness Day to the United Nations in 2011, which brought global attention to happiness as a metric.
This coincided with a rise in negative feelings "comprising worry, sadness, and anger, especially marked in Asia and Africa, and more recently elsewhere", it said.