The Happiest Place on Earth - and It Ain't Disneyland

But it does start with a "D." It's Denmark.

Two separate studies on both sides of the pond have concluded that the happiest people on earth live in Denmark. The first study which formed the "Happiness Index" was a part of the World Values Survey headed by University of Michigan's political scientist Ronald Inglehart. The second study was done out of the University of Leicester. Adrian White, the lead researcher on the project and his team created the first ever World Map of Happiness. This result may surprise many but over the past thirty years, Denmark has consistently scored higher than any western country on life satisfaction. Trying to make sense of this conclusion, Danish researchers suggested that the Danes were happier because they had low expectations of their own country. While I suppose it is a blessing to be content with what you have, that analysis sounded rather dismal to me. There had to be more. The researchers on the World Map of Happiness did also conclude that a nation's happiness levels had much to do with a country's health levels, prosperity and education.
Image by Bob Krist (www.nationalgeographic.com)

The Danish secret however, may have been uncovered by Monocle Magazine in their survey of the World's Most Livable City. In addition to evaluating a city's airport, transportation links, crime rates and neighborhoods, this year they also investigated cultural venues and ease of opening small businesses amongst other requirements. And what city ranked number one? Copenhagen. In large part because it provided urban dwellers most what they look for - a mix of shops and services, green space, independent businesses, restaurants, cafes, street-life, security and a comfortable dose of grit and surprise.

I visited Copenhagen some years ago and while I do not remember an immediate and overwhelming sense of joy or happiness, (granted I had just left Sweden, the land of extraordinarily beautiful people), I do remember being captivated by good design.... (I wonder how much of a role design plays in the state of wellbeing...). Perhaps, one has to live in Copenhagen to reap the full emotional benefits. The older brother of a dear friend of mine is moving to Copenhagen from New York. I guess, I will check in with him in a few months and see how he is doing....

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