How Happy Would You Say You Are?

How would you answer the question: “On a scale of one to 10, how happy would you say you are?” Well, the researchers at the World Database of Happiness asked that question of people all around the world – and came up with a list of the happiest nations. Here are the results, courtesy of Forbes magazine:

  • Know this: National happiness can’t be predicted by the average income, how warm or cold the climate is, or whether it’s a democracy or dictatorship.
  • So, what are the top five happiest countries? Denmark is in first place. Followed closely by Switzerland, Iceland, Finland and Australia.
  • Some reasons for the happiness: The Swiss have clean air, streets, and tap water, are well-off financially, and have almost no unemployment. Since Iceland is an island, they have a bigger sense of community. Also, in the Icelandic language, the greeting means “Come happy” and the farewell literally translates: “Go happy.” Also, even though Nigeria and Bangladesh are poor nations, their citizens are relatively happy because they have close families, and tight social bonds in the community.
  • So, what country’s at the low end of the happiness scale? The honor goes to the former Soviet republic of Moldova. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, per capita income has dropped to $880 a year. They have no distinct culture, and no national pride.  
  • Where do the U.S. and Canada fall on the happiness scale? Canada is tied for 9th place, and the U.S. is in 17th. The study found that Americans may have 3 times the money they had in 1950 – but they also work longer hours and commute greater distances than virtually any other people in the world. However, there is a silver lining: Americans remain profoundly optimistic that they will succeed in life and in love.
No matter where you live, it is possible to be happy. Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert says the #1 predictor of happiness is social relationships. Meaning the more friends we have, the merrier we are.

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