I have been enjoying reading "Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zone Way" by Dan Buettner, who has been researching the happiness nations on the planet.
Chapter two is devoted to finding out why the Danes are considered to be happy. The title of the chapter is "Denmark: The World’s Happiness All-Stars." I have to admit as read this chapter, I really resonated with the lessons from Denmark. During the interview process with the Danes, Buettner commented that the Danes don’t all walk around with giant smiles on their faces signaling that they are happiness all-stars. As a group they are not materialistic or money driven. Instead their happiness or thriving comes from an internal place. They seem to have a sense of what gives them purpose or what gives them contentment and this is what makes them happy.
Denmark is one of the wealthiest nations per person in the world and their government spends money on its citizens to ensure they are well provided for in many aspects of life. Children and seniors have monies set aside for programs for them, lifelong health care is guaranteed, including doctor’s lab work and surgeries. Education is free--in fact, students at the university level are paid to go to school. If you are unemployed the government pays for Danes to look for work. The cost to the Danish people is high taxes but it gives them a sense of security, freedom and peace of mind. Denmark has one of the lowest disparities between rich and poor; they encourage people to do work they enjoy and not take a position just for the money. In general, Danes work for about 37 hours a week and then leave work to spend time with friends and family. Much of their culture centers around being outdoors or walking or biking for function and exercise.
The Danes were also found to be trusting and trustworthy people, with a high level of tolerance. In the Danish culture all people, including children, are given a chance to speak their mind and weigh in with their opinion.