Some new studies suggested the happiest people in the world are in Norway. Why?
The United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network issues a report listing the happiest countries in the world. This year, Norway is followed by Denmark, Iceland, and Switzerland. So what is it about a cold, somewhat remote northern European country that makes people there so happy? There are at least three factors.
1. They have bad weather
Some researchers say the dark, cold climate in places like Norway makes people happier in the long run because survival requires “greater mutual support,” And it turns out that the colder weather and longer nights associated with Scandinavia might actually help bring communities together.
Besides, it seems the Norwegians have a positive attitude about the negative weather.
“The first year we lived here, I kept my son home from school because of a snowstorm,” Kristin Ohrn Nilsen, an American living in Norway, said. “The teacher was completely puzzled. Here there is a rugged, ‘Viking’ type mentality and they have a saying, ‘Det er ikke noe som heter dårlig vær, bare dårlig klær,’ which means, ‘There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.'”
2. They have lots of community spirit
It’s not just the cold, of course, but the combination of geography and security also lead to people developing long-standing relationships with each other.
Norwegians do not move often, and often pass their family homes down to their children. Therefore, in many cities, especially small cities, people have a strong network of family.
Actually, there’s one more Scandinavian term that captures the feeling: “hygge.” It’s a feeling, an atmosphere, and an action. You can be a “hyggelig’ person, or you can describe a cabin as ‘hyggelig,’ or it can be used as a verb: ‘Let’s hygge ourselves with a … a meal, a visit, a book, etc.”
3. They don’t worry–because they have economic security
Remember that high per capita GDP, driven largely by oil revenue? In Norwegian society, they spend the country’s money on purchasing security for almost everyone.
“We pay a maximum of $300 per year to doctors, emergency rooms, etc,” Kristin said. “Once you hit that amount, you receive a ‘fri kort’ (‘free card’), and don’t pay anymore the rest of the year,” she wrote, and listed other benefits that would be unheard of in the U.S.: all children’s medical expenses, childbirth, five weeks paid vacation.
“Everyone receives a pension at 67 … even women who have chosen to stay at home, and have not worked outside the home,” she continued. “Free education through university level. But we do have high taxes though.”