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Friday FYI: Happy Place

Unicorns found in Denmark and why grandma is always right.


At times of existential crisis, we’ve all been on the verge of throwing in the towel, packing our bags, and booking that one-way ticket to California / Hawaii / some place other than Denmark, thinking we’d be our happiest there. Well, we were all wrong. Fresh data from University of Michigan’s 2008 World Values Survey found that, based on factors like economic prosperity, stability and democratic government, Denmark provided its citizens with the kind of environment most conducive to happiness.

In other words, Denmark is the happiest place on Earth.

The U.S., the world’s richest nation, ranked 16th out of the 97 countries indexed in the study — count on astronomical research grants to prove trite old adages. Like grandma used to say, “Money ain’t never gonna buy you happiness.”

As for the rest:

Top 10 Happiest Countries:

  1. Denmark
  2. Puerto Rico
  3. Colombia
  4. Iceland
  5. N. Ireland
  6. Republic of Ireland
  7. Switzerland
  8. Netherlands
  9. Canada
  10. Austria

Top 10 Most Miserable Countries:

  1. Zimbabwe
  2. Armenia
  3. Moldova
  4. Belarus
  5. Ukraine
  6. Albania
  7. Iraq
  8. Bulgaria
  9. Georgia
  10. Russia

There there, chin up now. On the bright side, this year’s World Values Study also found that overall levels of happiness in the world are rising. Out of the 52 countries for which there was data dating 17 years back, the happiness index rose in 40 and fell in just 12. And while the growth was inevitably tied to economic reasons (India’s index is the most rapidly-growing), the research found it had more to do with people’s freedom to live their lives the way they want to than with the mere financial bottom line.

So wherever your situation, consider the fact that you always have options. You have the freedom to screw it all any day you wish and go do whatever. That thought alone should sprout a rainbow.

And if that doesn’t work, just head over to Priceline and book that one-way to Denmark.

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Published July 4, 2008




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