We all want to be happy and who better than to learn from scandinavians in particular, Denmark which particular tops all the time in happiness rankings. What makes danes happy is the country’s sense of community . 9 out of 10 danes are happy to pay taxes because they trust it will be for common good and they will be take care of , if they get sick or loose a job.
A sense of community starts of happiness, a 1967 article “Children Should have 100 parents” led to cohousing communities in Denmark and this has grown rapidly and reaped its rewards. Along with a sense of community being in the real world and disconnecting from the virtual world helps reduce loneliness and increase satisfaction.
Normally it is thought that wealthier countries tend to rank higher in happiness but it is untrue, South Korea is a case in e.g, very wealthy but has the highest rate of suicides per capita and ranked 55th on the World Happiness report.
Experience and anticipation of experiences keeps us happy. It is not the product purchase alone but the anticipation of making that purchase that makes us happy. We can then link a certain goal to a upcoming purchase and be more happy. Knowing that good times are round the corner keeps us more happy. In the same breadth comparison to what other people have spurs unhappiness.
Being fit, is another reason that makes danes happy.Cycling is the norm and bicycles are everywhere, more than 63% people bike to work,. That itself says it all, for the social effect of this one deed. So if you want to be happy start walking/biking more.
Trust, health, fairness and generous communities are recipe of a country’s happiness.One of the important aspects of happiness is freedom and this includes free time. Danes spend fewer hours at work than in the US/India. Parents have 52 weeks of paid leave divided between them. New parents are less happy than their peers who have no kids because of lack of support system to address this Denmark created the Bonus Grandparents program to connect senior citizens to the community. Parent get more free time and seniors get more activities in their life- this is a real win-win.
When we trust others more, we experience more happiness. If people trust that their dropped wallet will be returned, their are likely to feel better and secure. This starts with having empathy. Hence, it is important to develop social and emotional skills of children and improve sensitivities. This can be done by reading stories together. This is a common classroom activity in all Scandinavian countries.
Countries with more economic equality are places of more trust and happiness, since people feel secure and see others as cooperators , not competitors. Therefore social inequality rising has a beating on happiness. This has been proven in scientific experiments. As a analogy, researcher Katherine DeCelles of HBS has found that for cases of air rage, the worst contributor to the feeling of injustice is the first class section in aeroplanes. If we could have the economy section passengers walk through a seperate gate , passengers may feel lesser air rage.
When you do something nice, you get helpers high, It comes from nucleus accumbens that is also responsible for good feelings of eating and sex. In a way helping each other is an evolutionary key to our survival. Volunteering makes you happy. You may think people who volunteer are already happy but it is likely to be reverse that volunteers feel more grateful for what they know now, that is how fortunate they are and what it means to be poor. Further it boosts friendships and social relationships as well. 70% of danes volunteer and hence get helpers high.
So start a random act of kindness today, Be happy !
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