Why the devil is Denmark so happy?

12th April 2012

During the first ever conference on happiness, Denmark topped the United Nations charts as the most contented country in the world, but why?

Having followed Bhutan's lead on measuring 'Gross National Happiness', the United Nations (UN) hosted the first ever conference on the world's happiness just before Easter. The World Happiness Report, which was specially commissioned for the conference, revealed that the happiest nation in the world was Denmark, followed by Norway, Finland and then Netherlands.

“Jolly and satisfied, the Danes have built one of the most contented societies the planet has ever known, and have been topping international happiness surveys for years,” said TV presenter Simon Reeve while writing an article for Wanderlust on Denmark's happiness.

The top four northern European countries tallied an average of 7.6 out of 10 on the happy scale, whereas Sub-Saharan African countries scored in the region of 3.4. The UK came 18th with a score of around seven.

Overall, the whole world is getting happier, even if it is only an increase of 0.14.

According to the report, strong social networks and good health are just as important as wealth. Political freedom was also among the contributing causes for contentedness.

Among the interesting insights from the report authors was the revelation from neuroscientist Richard Davidson that happiness is a skill that can be learned.

The Danes must therefore be great students, learning the trades of happiness from previous generations. But Simon Reeve has some other ideas as to why the Danes are  topping the cheery charts.

According to Simon, Danish society is happy because of their cycle-obsessive culture, their positively-negative attitudes and their unfathomed tolerance to absolutely everything (including foreign drunkards). In Simon's eyes these attributes, plus their belief in hygge (meaning inner warmth, relaxation and cosiness), good looks and weariness of capitalism makes Danes the happiest of the happy.

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Check out our Denmark travel guide to see how's best to explored the contented country | Destinations... More

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