Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Live like the Danes

Last night, C and I watched an episode of 60 Minutes that we recorded on Sunday. One of their feature stories was about the happiest countries in the world. The number one happiest country in the world is... Denmark; and it has been for the last 30 years. Where did the United States rank? Somewhere in the 20s. So, what makes Denmark the happiest country in the world? A few things actually.

The experts interviewed said that Denmark is happy because people are content and claim to have very little to complain about. They don't have extremely high expectations, so they don't get disappointed very often. It was also pointed out that there isn't a major disparity between classes. Danes like to believe that they are tolerant towards other people regardless of creed or color according to www.studyindenmark.dk. One man in particular says he is happy because people don't judge his choice of career as a garbage man and because he has plenty of time to spend with his family. The article in ABC News says, "Denmark is what is called a "post consumerist" society. People have nice things, but shopping and consuming is not a top priority...In Denmark, you can see trust in action all around you. Vegetable stands run on the honor system, mothers leave babies unattended in strollers outside cafés, and most bicycles are left unlocked."

Compare that to the United States, and people seem to never be content and the difference between classes creates increased competition. But this sense of competition isn't to see who can be the happiest, it's to see who has the most stuff. Of couse, I am a shopper myself, but within reason. And even if C says shopping isn't a hobby - it is to me. But not much is left up to the honor system these days in America, babies are never left alone and if they are - it can be splashed all over the headlines (ie: Britney Spears). So what do we do to live more like the Danes?

A group of Danish students were asked if they preferred the glitz and glamour of America to life in Denmark. One responded that he would rather live in Denmark than become consumed by the American Dream.

I have always had high expectations of myself and get discouraged when I dwell on trying to do better. But after seeing this story and reading more about it, I am going to make a more conscious effort to be content and happy with where I am right now and what I've accomplished.


Thirdmango said...

For me shopping is actually a bit of a hobby. I love the thrift shopping and used book shopping. Also I'm a collector and a packrat, so when it comes to the media, I have large collections in all the different areas. That may make me more then just a hobbyist.

Johnson-n-Johnson said...

hmmm....looks like you have my "other" blog attached to your page. my real blog is


vine street said...

I'm curious to know what factors have made the Danes/Denmark like this---what do they do differently to maintain this post-consumerist attitude towards life?

Right now, I've had to exercise some serious self-discipline in order to be content with my material allotment, given that we're living the student life. But what will happen when we have an income? But even beyond that, I've not escaped America's attitudes of distrust and judgmentalness.

Did the show give any reasons as to how/why the Danes are able to maintain their level of satisfaction and happiness with life?