With the release of the 2015 World Happiness Report, Denmark has been listed third as the happiest country in the world. For the last two years, it had the honorary title of happiest country in the world. But, what is it about Denmark that gives them the prestige of being labeled one of the happiest countries? One of the factors that seem to be in consideration is exactly the opposite of prestige. In Denmark, many salaries are comparable to each other and live in similar neighborhoods so they don’t have the feeling of one job being more prestigious than another person. They pride themselves on a job well done rather than what their career is. This also leads the Danish to pursue careers in something that they’re interested in rather than find something that has a high reward payoff.
Another contributing factor is that the Danish seem to be working to live rather than living to work. Rarely will you find a Dane working after 5pm and are almost always home for dinner every night to spend time with loved ones. They cherish social interactions more than anything. They prefer to spend their money on making memorable experiences rather than having material possessions.
Their government also helps make this all possible by setting regulations and guidelines for businesses to follow such as long maternity leave (up to a year) and even paid paternity leave (up to six months). The government also encourages people to have up to six weeks paid vacation. This way they have more leisure time to spend on things they want to.
It’s known that Denmark one of the highest tax rates in the world, but they also have high benefits because of it such as the maternity and paternity leave. They also have a nation wide health insurance allowing for free healthcare for everyone. On top of that, they also have state funded education to encourage students to pursue an education without the fear of having to pay back student loans. They also have a stable retirement program for their elderly citizens. The government provides many parks and facilities as well to allow the Danish to use at their leisure.
Trust also seems to be an important factor in the Denmark’s success of finding happiness. Many Danes, when surveyed, have high trust in each other. They feel comfortable leaving their bikes unlocked for example or letting their children walk home from school. They also have high trust in government by trusting in the government that they will do what’s best for their people.
It’s no surprise either that the Danish are enthusiasts for the outdoors. Most Danes prefer to take their bikes to work rather than drive. They don’t let the weather defer them. Because Denmark is known for cloudy/rainy weather they seem to make a motto out of saying that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. With the rising obesity factor in the United States and other countries, there have been many studies to show that exercise is incredibly important and shows that exercise releases dopamine in your body, which is what makes you feel happiness.
One speculation that people might seem to make on the Dane’s key to happiness is their low expectations. For example, because of their notorious rainy weather, they wake up assuming that it’s going to be raining out and so when it is nice out, they are immediately happier. They tend to set more realistic expectations rather than unachievable ones. This makes it easier for them to achieve happiness once their expectation has been met.
So does Denmark have the perfect combination of contributers that make their country the happiest? While it’s not absolutely proven, it sure does seem like they set a great example for people to strive for. Spend less time at work, more with your family and loved ones, and set realistic expectations. And, of course, live in a country you have trust in.