Did anyone catch “60 Minutes” on TV last night? They did a piece on Denmark having the “Happiest People in the World.”
This is according to research by Adrian White, analytic social psychologist at the University of Leicester in England.
Happiness is not walking around with a large smile on your face, but rather contentment with the quality of life. It seems the Danes do not smile a lot and are rather a reserved bunch.
They do ride bikes a lot, and that is part of the contentment. Being content with riding a bicycle to work each day, instead of jamming up the streets of their tiny country with automobiles, and spending large amounts of money on gas.
It seems that once an individual has a home, food, and clothing, extra money does not make them any happier. It appears what people want is good health care, and free education.
Out of the 177 countries listed, here is the top ten:
9. Brunei Darussalam
The Netherlands were they also ride bikes a lot, came in 15th; a lot better than the USA at 23, and Australia at 26. The UK came in at 41 and France at 62.
I found it interesting that one of those interviewed on 60 Minutes, said it helped that Denmark was not a world power. I can see that, the government spending money on its own people instead of helping out the rest of the world.
This also made me wonder about the UK and France, both world powers back in history. Are they spending money trying to live up to a former image?
The Danes work a 37 hour week, take six weeks vacation a year, so it seems leisure time is more important to them than extra cash. In spite of having some of the highest taxes anywhere and a not too good a climate the people of Denmark are content with their lot.
It appears that extreme capitalism does not bring people happiness, neither does extreme socialism. Former communist Russia came in at 167. The answer lies somewhere in between.
So what can we do as individuals to make the quality of our lives better? We can hardly change our country, when the majority mind set is one of materialism. Bigger and better homes and cars, etc. And we can’t all move to Denmark, I get the impression they’re pretty crowded already.
We can however, if we choose, opt out of the rat-race. Work less, earn less, and spend less on material stuff. Far be it for me to say what an individual should or should not do, this is just some food for thought.