The results of the fourth World Happiness Report are in, and it’s no surprise to anyone who has ever read up on happiness around the world that Denmark have once again hit the top spot. Surveys and research dating back to the 1970s have often concluded that Denmark, despite their long cold and dark days are the happiest. And yes, we are insanely jealous.
World Happiness Report
The World Happiness Report looks at a variety of areas such as healthy life expectancy, personal freedom, perceived corruption, gross domestic product and charitable giving, with 1000 individuals from each country being asked to rate their lives on a scared of 0 – 10 annually over the course of three years.
Interestingly, (although rather unsurprisingly) this report suggests that countries with more equality were happier. When there were big gaps between the happy and unhappy in each country, overall the scores were largely on the unhappy side. So, those countries focusing on closing the gender gap, for example, are getting things right.
Unfortunately, however, it seems that the inequality of happiness has actually increased quite significantly in a large number of countries, meaning that although some may feel happier than the last time they were asked, there is also a large number that are feeling very much the opposite.
What the Danes Do Right
So why are the Danish so much happier than the rest of the world? Despite the winters being made up of 17 hours of darkness and temperatures of around 0C, some suggest that it is the concept of “Hygge” (pronounced “hoo-ga”) that gives this happiness; a concept which seems to have been born out of such extreme weather.
Hygge does not really have an English equivalent, although it could be roughly translated to ‘coziness’. However, it really encompasses an entire life philosophy by which the Danish live their (seemingly rather happy) lives.
Imagine the feeling of being snuggled under a blanket in front of a roaring fire, cup of tea in one hand and a great book in the other – but all the time! The Danish like to look after themselves and those around them, and with that sort of positivity, and of course hygge, it’s no wonder they are feeling so great!
Perhaps in the way that the British like to complain, it seems that the Danish enjoy being happy, treating themselves well and indulging in the finer things in life, as opposed to denying oneself of pleasures (something that we in Britain are very guilty of!).
One of the best things about hygge, and the entire happiness of Denmark, is that it is not merely a middle- or upper-class thing. Hygge is equally accessible to everyone and is such an integral part of what it means to be Danish that it is intrinsically a part of each and every Danish individual’s life.
It is worth noting that the top ten for the 2016 ranking, includes the same countries (including Finland, Switzerland Norway and Iceland) as the previous year, although in a slightly different order. It must be something to do with all that cold weather, making people feel snuggly and happy. Either that or they’re delirious.
With the US coming in at number 13, and the UK ranking a rather poor 23rd, it would seem that we are doing something really rather wrong when it comes to our happiness. Surely we need to all grab a good old Danish pastry, put on our cosiest jumper and start taking this hygge thing seriously. Alternatively, let’s just all move to Denmark instead.