Measuring Happiness

Monday, November 24, 2014

At first this sounded like a rash generalization to me.  How can an entire country of people be "happier" than another?  Just because people are united as one nationality, they are not necessarily the same or too similar.
 Also - how does one quantify "happiness?"  However, after reading many articles on the best countries to live in, I noticed reoccurring points that I could not ignore.  Denmark surfaced repeatedly in my reading.   Denmark is often one of the top ranked countries (followed by Norway and Switzerland) on the “World Happiness Report."  I was curious as to why, and what I discovered was that a special combination of social benefits and positive attitudes is responsible for the Dane's rank as #1 on this year's list.
Happiness is a significant factor in well being, and is known to lengthen life spans and increase productivity.  Denmark’s celebrated happiness makes it an alluring tourist destination, and I hope to travel there one day myself to absorb some tips!
Certainly, many U.S. citizens appear happy and have adopted similar practices, coincidentally or not, akin to the Denmark lifestyle.  There are some elements that we individually cannot change, such as length of maternity leave allotted (the Danes average 52 weeks, while the U.S. is stuck at roughly 10.2 - this is a drastic disparity), but there exist many factors that we can independently control.  Below is a list of the most popular reasons as to why Denmark has ascended to the top of the “World Happiness Report’s” list of happiest countries on earth.

7 Ways to Live like a Dane:
1.     Trust Others – Though people become vulnerable when they let down their defenses and trust others, excess worry about whether someone is or isn't trustworthy is futile.  According to an analysis of the “World Happiness Report,” trusting strangers is one component that leads to greater contentment.
2.     If You Don’t Like Something, Change It – Rather than dwelling in negativity by complaining about aspects of life you wish you could alter, just do it.  Sometimes it is difficult, but the end result is usually worth the struggle of change.  A survey shows that Danes are likely to take action against things they dislike – I know I am going to concentrate not only on changing things that I wish were different, but also on attacking my goals instead of just dreaming about them.
3.     Bike More, Drive Less – This tip is an obvious one, but the statistics are truly mind blowing: biking minimizes pollution produced and a mere 30 minutes per day can in fact add another couple years onto your life!  In Copenhagen, approximately 50 percent of the population bikes to work and school.
4.     Be Responsible – Focus on personal success for the benefit of others as well as for yourself.  Life is a balance between a myriad of activities and relationships, thus, happiness is boosted if that balance is maintained and if we work to make others’ lives easier as well.  Keep this in mind as you strive to be the best you possible, and don’t neglect those around you!
5.     Get Cozy in the Cold – Denmark has little light in the winter and can be bitingly cold, but that doesn’t stop the Danish people from relishing in the chilly weather.  The Danish concept of “hygge” connotes comfort, love, coziness, and strengthened social interaction during the darkest months of the year.  Don’t let the cold get you down (this is one idea that I am writing down for myself).
6.     Don’t be Selfish – It’s easy to be gluttonous in a capitalistic society where everyone must help himself to succeed, but according to the “World Happiness Report,” one of the notable characteristics of a happier society was one that employed a “culture of generosity.”  So, offer your guidance to others.  What is success without others with whom to share it?
7.     Think: Equality – The countries that ranked highest on the “World Happiness Report” are comparable to one another in their progress toward gender equality.  The Nordic countries (the highest ranked on the happiness scale) were pioneers in granting women the right to vote.  Women in Denmark hold many leadership positions (though there is still progress to be made).  When interacting with others, no matter who they are, we should never make them feel lesser.
© Wild Hearted 2016.

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