July 20, 2009

What's the happiest country in the world?

Denmark, according to author and self-described grump Eric Weiner, who relies on the Eurobarometer Survey for evidence in his opinion piece in yesterday's New York Times: More than two-thirds of Danes report being “very satisfied with their lives.”

The reason? Low expectations. Apparently, the Danes don't expect much to go well and when things do, they're, well, happy:

Danes have low expectations and so “year after year they are pleasantly surprised to find out that not everything is rotten in the state of Denmark,” says James W. Vaupel, a demographer who has investigated Danish bliss.

If this all sounds vaguely Buddhist, Weiner thinks so, too:

Though not an especially religious people, Danes would make good Buddhists. They live their lives as the Buddha advised: in the present tense, not grasping at some future happiness jackpot.

Other portions of the study show that older people are happier (lower expectations), and since the feminist movement of the 1970s, women are not as happy as they once were (higher expectations).

Read Weiner's piece here.

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America's richest counties.... - Long Island - New York (NY)'s picture

[...] expectations," as follows: And The Happiest Place On Earth Is... - 60 Minutes - CBS News Tricycle

America's richest counties.... - Long Island - New York (NY)'s picture

[...] they were pretty modest," he says. By having low expectations, one is rarely disappointed. Tricycle

James Shaheen's picture

Yes, I've heard of Brazil. I lived in Porto Alegre once. And I was very happy there.

Roger Von Vaz's picture


Have you ever heard of BRAZILLLLLLL
I bet that the dannish are not as happy as the brazilians...Iam sure. Iam brazilian and I konwo Danmark as well....Believe me!!!!

arunlikhati's picture

This reminds me of a BBC story from a couple years ago: "The key to a happy relationship could be accepting that some miserable times are unavoidable, experts say." Low expectations. I feel that this story must have been posted on the old blog, especially concerning this quote towards the end: "The authors recommend using mindfulness, a Buddhist meditation technique, to help cope with family suffering."