Are You Happy? Are You Having Sanook?


Today we are thinking about Sanook. The word Sanook translates to ‘fun’. It is a rule, in Thai culture, to always have Sanook.

But Sanook is also about more than just fun. Sanook is to have pleasure in everything you do, whether you are working or at leisure. It is about always relaxing and not worrying about anything. It is about everything that you do being entertaining. And it is about your interactions being enjoyable. Sanook is a way of life.


Sanook is about having a happy life and finding happiness in everything, no matter what the circumstances. Moreover, it is about deriving pleasure and satisfaction from all activities. It’s a unique concept. But in the Western world of continually advancing, climbing corporate ladders and attempting to gain material wealth, the notion seems to get lost, except for maybe on weekends.

The Dalai Lama says,
“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” With this one purpose in mind, you don’t need to worry about anything else.

Famous spiritual leader Deepak Chopra states,
“The purpose of life is the expansion of happiness. It is the goal of every other goal.” Deepak is talking about the filmmaker Ben Henretigs project documenting the goal of an entire nation. Bhutan embraces happiness as part of its national policy.

Sanook is a Buddhist concept reminding us life is impermanent and the importance to live in the moment.


To us, Sanook is a state of mind. You choose to be happy. We believe in this concept so much that we try to live our life by it. Further, we left our high paying secure jobs in the pursuit of it. Our new life philosophy is – If it isn’t fun, then don’t do it!

In Thailand, we are always motivated by how much fun everyone seems to have. And Thai people often ask us, “Are you having fun?” It is exciting to see the joy associated with daily tasks and this dedication to happiness.

With this philosophy in mind and the attitude of the local people, we always have fun! It is why we love Thailand. And why we choose to live in Thailand for a few months each year.

Striving to get pleasure from everything sounds like a fantastic life to us. Did you have Sanook today?


“Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. No person will make you happy unless you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you. It can only come from you.”Buddha

In his book Living the Thai way, traveller Michael Keller has written in further detail about Sanook. You can read it here.

Read next – How to Always be a Happy Traveller.


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  1. I love when I find new words that can puzzle others when used. I like the idea of Sanook and taking pleasure in everything you do. I am generally a Polly Anna person and look at most things with a positive view. But unfortunately that does not always give me Sanook! I have found that getting rid of negative people in my life has helped to be more positive and grateful for what is in my life. Thanks for the new word! I am glad that Thailand is bringing you Sanook!

  2. I absolutely believe happiness is a choice. And love the idea of sanook being a way of life.

  3. Love this idea. I know in the US this is definitely not the typical outlook. I agree whole-heartedly though that happiness is a choice! You guys are so inspiring as you definitely seem to live out Sanook!

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