Danish Happiness Explained

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Denmark has consistently been rated the happiest country in the world. Daily Scandinavian has repeatedly written articles about Danish Hygge. Here we are giving you six reasons why Denmark is one of the world’s happiest countries.

The 2018 World Happiness Report ranks Denmark among the three happiest of 155 nations – a qualification that the nation has earned for seven continuous years. The term ‘hygge’ could be one of the secrets as to why Danish people are so happy.

Danish Happiness Explained
Hygge is the near-religious Danish belief in living simply and “cozily” surrounded by family and friends.

Its stereotype is that of a semi-socialist paradise where healthcare is free, students are paid by the government to go to college, and the national pastime is cuddling in front of a roaring fire with a glass of red wine and a good book.

Secret 1 – Hygge
Secret 1 lies possibly in the country’s old-age belief in Hygge, which  secret possibly lies in the country’s age-old belief in Hygge, which emphasizes cozy contentment.

The Oxford dictionary added the word in June 2017, and it refers to high-quality social interactions. Hygge can be used as a noun, adjective or verb (to hygge oneself), and events and places can also be hyggelige (hygge-like). it’s the near-religious Danish belief in living simply and “cozily” surrounded by family and friends.

Danish Happiness Explained
Hygge is more than just crackling wood fires and full-body pajamas, it’s anything that brings you deep, soul-warming pleasure

Hygge is more than just crackling wood fires and full-body pajamas, it’s anything that brings you deep, soul-warming pleasure. That could be sharing a meal with friends, reading the Sunday paper, or yes, playing with LEGOs.

Danes are “staggered and bemused” that hygge has become a trendy self-help fad. A quick search on Amazon shows more than a dozen hygge-themed books promising to reveal the Danish secret to happiness. Sounds like the perfect read for that roaring fire.

Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, said the lifestyle is defining part of Denmark’s DNA. Denmark’s place among the world’s happiest countries is consistent with many other national surveys of happiness (or, as psychologists call it, “subjective well-being”).

Danish Happiness Explained
Trust is taught in schools and learned through everyday interactions with trustworthy and responsive institutions. Photo: Visit Denmark

2 – Danes Trust Each Other
“In surveys, 79 percent of Danes say they trust most people. Where does this sense of trust come from? Denmark’s small population (fewer than 6 million) and cultural homogeneity have something to do with it, but the Danish sense of trust is far-reaching, from neighbors to government. Trust isn’t an innate Danish trait. It’s taught in schools and learned through everyday interactions with trustworthy and responsive institutions.

Trust comes in different forms. Most people trust their friends and family, but Denmark also benefits from what anthropologists call a general societal trust, which is the ability to trust people you have never met before. In Denmark, people are assumed to be honest and reliable unless they somehow show that they are not.

This societal trust extends to a trust in Danish institutions like the government, police, judiciary, and health services. People who hold power in these positions are trusted to act in the best interest of society, and there is very little corruption. Trust is also an important part of doing business in Denmark: a Danish company can be expected to deliver a high-quality product on schedule, or be honest about the reason it cannot.  (Denmark.dk)

Related: Are Scandinavians the Happiest People in the World?

Danish Happiness Explained
every Dane gets free health care, free K-college education (students are actually paid $900 a month), highly subsidized child care and generous unemployment benefits

3 – Stable Welfare State
Danes have a stable government, low levels of public corruption, and access to high-quality education and health care.

Danes pay some of the highest income tax rates in the world — 45 percent for an average Danish annual income of $43,000 and 52 percent for those who earn more than $67,000. But in exchange for forking over half their earnings, every Dane gets free health care, free K-college education (students are actually paid $900 a month), highly subsidized child care and generous unemployment benefits. In surveys, nine out of 10 Danes say they gladly pay their exorbitant taxes.

“The reason behind the high level of support for the welfare state in Denmark is the awareness of the fact that the welfare model turns our collective wealth into well-being,” writes Meik Wiking, chief executive officer of Denmark’s Happiness Research Institute. “We are not paying taxes. We are investing in our society. We are purchasing quality of life.”

Related: The Nearly Almost Perfect People

Danish Happiness Explained
From a Lego store. Credit: Lego

4 – Working Less and Spending More Time with Their Families
The Danish family unit is extremely important within Danish society. This is reflected in many ways. Danes expect to pay more than $1000 for a baby carriage, and will without question purchase expensive clothing and accessories for their children. Danes will also take great care with the maintenance and decoration of their homes as this is considered to reflect on the “success” of the family (Danishnet).

On the topic of parental leave, Denmark again has one of the most generous policies in the world. The government requires all employers to offer up to 52 weeks of leave — for either mother or father — and the state provides monetary support for up to 32 weeks.

5 – Danes Don’t Boast
The Law of Jante (Danish: Janteloven) is a code of conduct known in Nordic countries, that portrays doing things out of the ordinary, being overtly personally ambitious, or not conforming, as unworthy and inappropriate.

The attitudes were first formulated in the form of the ten rules of Jante Law by the Danish-Norwegian author Aksel Sandemose, in his satirical novel A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks (En flyktning krysser sitt spor, 1933), but the actual attitudes themselves would be older. His novel portrays the fictional small Danish town Jante, which he modelled upon his native town Nykøbing Mors in the 1930s, which was typical of all small towns and communities, where nobody was anonymous. (Wikipedia)

Although Janteloven has lost some of its grip in cosmopolitan Copenhagen, it’s still very much lived by average Danes (you might even argue that being “average” is the goal).

Danish Happiness Explained
Because Danes are afforded such a strong safety net, there isn’t as much financial risk in failure, so people feel free to try new things

6 – Feeling of safety
Because Danes are afforded such a strong safety net, there isn’t as much financial risk in failure, so people feel free to try new things. If it doesn’t work out, no big loss. Perhaps that’s why the Danes was number five on the lesser known Global Creativity Index 2015.  in which Scandinavia once again stands strong.

Danish Happiness Explained, compiled by Tor Kjolberg

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