The United Nations recently traveled around the world and asked the simple question: how happy are you? The citizens of the world rated the quality of their lives on a scale of one to ten on the list of happiest nations. While no single country was packed with 10s, Denmark came out at the top. The Danesrated their lives as a 7.693 onaverage. They just barely beat out Norway, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.
Northern Europe has been topping the lists of the world’s happiest people for the past few years. Despite the cold weather, they are finding what it takes to be content thanks to their long life expectancies, social support systems, high GDP, and relatively uncorrupted governments.
Wondering what it takes to truly be happy? People have been searching far and wide since the beginning of time for that answer. As much as we like to think that it’s a complicated array of factors, it is actually quite simple. All we need is love! It doesn’t need to be love as in that unachievably perfect relationship. We actually just need social connections and a good support system. We need people who we can turn to and a group of friends and familywho support us. It turns out that, along with a decent quality of everyday life, makes people happy. The happiest nations are the one in which people have a good quality of life.
So, we and our fellow Americans probably have some of these things, where did we come in on the list? The United States is way down at number 17! We were beat out by places like Costa Rica (#12) and the UAE (#14). We ranked in at number 11 a few years ago but now we’ve fallen down the list.
That kind of news is enough to make us more depressed. Fortunately though, we don’t have to live in Italy or Togo. Despite their lovely weather and delicious food, the Italians ranked number 45. Togo bottomed out the list at number 156.
One of the biggest surprises for many Americans is that Canada is way up at number six on the list. If you thought that Canada was just a colder versionof the U.S., you might need to take a closer look! They ranked higher in terms of social support, generosity, and freedom.
Freedom is kind of our claim to fame so what’s going on there? Why aren't we higher up on the list of happiest nations? Well, you can blame the economy for that. Since the economic downturn, we’ve fallen from the number 11 spot. Many Americans are reporting a lower sense of personal freedom due to job insecurity and increased unemployment.
It’s no surprise that the economy, and our perception of it, affect our happiness. Countries that have taken a significant hit in recent years like Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece have seen a major drop in happiness self-reports.
Money isn’t everything though. Places like Costa Rica, which has an average yearly income under $10,000, is consistency one of the happiest countries onearth. They have a higher life expectancy than Americans and a lower carbon footprint. Experts credit their laidback pace of life and the value that thier culture places on family.
So, next time you are feeling a bit down, trying relaxing and getting to know your family again. With a little inspiration from our neighbors in Costa Rica and Canada, we might be able to pull the U.S. back up the list! By: Nicci Mende Photo Credit