It’s official – Denmark is the happiest nation on earth! Studies over the past couple of years by universities in the United States and the United Kingdom surveyed countries across the globe, using a variety of criteria to assess overall happiness, and our Scandinavian friends came out on top in both polls – so here are five of the main reasons the Danes are smiling.
This one should be obvious. While the old saying goes that money can’t buy happiness, it does relieve some of the stress of day-to-day life, as well as allowing you the ability to enjoy some of life’s little comforts – and Danes enjoy one of the highest average wages in the world.
At first glance, you might think that Denmark’s high divorce rate would have a negative effect on their overall contentment – in fact, the Danish see this as evidence of the personal freedom which allows them to remain happy. Rather than stay in a failing marriage to avoid the stigma of divorce, the Scandinavians simply part ways and get on with their lives. The country’s attitude towards freedom – with progressive attitudes to sex and gender equality – is a key element of its high performance in the university studies.
Of course, an important contributor to anyone’s happiness is the ability to enjoy a long and healthy life. Denmark scores highly in this category, with an above-average life expectancy and, perhaps more importantly, generally good health. The country boasts an excellent, free healthcare system, while Danes are more likely to see a doctor than people in many other countries, averaging seven visits per year. The Danes are also one of the world’s leading exponents of healthcare technology, more commonly referred to as ‘e-health’, with patients encouraged to obtain health information for themselves, and patient data available to numerous professionals for analysis.
Simply put, Denmark works. The trains run on time, roads and streets are well-maintained, there’s a healthy balance between work and home lives and the state subsidises childcare and maternity (or paternity) leave. You might think all of this would come at a cost, but the reality is that a happy workforce is an effective workforce, creating a positive cycle – people are happy and motivated to work hard, which means they don’t have to work such long hours, which keeps them happy – and so on.
So the Danes are relatively well-off, live long and healthy lives and are free to live as they wish provided they work hard. But on top of all that – though not considered in the university studies – is the Danish idea of ‘hygge, or ‘well-being’. Hygge involves taking maximum satisfaction from small comforts, and is seen as being an inherent part of being Danish – so whether they’re spending time with friends and family, enjoying a traditional pork roast or relaxing with a glass of wine after a hard day’s work, the Danes make sure to make the most of the little things in life.