I was working hard on an article for this week’s blog post but was unsure if it would be appropriate for the website. My writer friends advised it goes too far off the beaten path.
So at the last minute I made a switcheroo.
It’s an article I wrote for a publication a few months ago. Thinking about the struggles of high taxes, the cost of healthcare, and earning enough to cover all expenses that the typical American must contend with, I often wonder if there is a system for an easier life. It is debatable whether the Scandinavian government system would work in the United States, or if the system is as smooth as they claim, but I wanted to explore life in the Scandinavian countries. So here is the article. I hope readers enjoy it. It’s certainly food for thought and discussion.
Year after year the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network comes to the conclusion in their World Happiness Report that the Scandinavian countries rank number one in the category of happiest people on earth.
How come? you’re probably asking. Scandinavian countries must endure long winters, months of darkness, and short summers. What’s more, Scandinavian novelists depict their societies as glum and austere (ever read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?). Nevertheless, they are ranked number one in the world in terms of happiness.
The UN World Happiness Index uses specific variables to measure a nation’s happiness, including Gross Domestic Product, healthy life span, and citizens’ overall feelings of trust, freedom, and generosity. After extensive study, researchers have concluded the following factors contribute to the Nordic world’s happiness and contentment:
1.) Freebies—free education and healthcare. In addition, the government provides ample unemployment insurance and child support.
2.) Work/Life Balance—Ah, what we all strive for in the US! Many businesses close at 5 PM and no one works over the weekend. Plus, there is great emphasis on families eating and spending quality time together.
3.) The Great Outdoors—Despite the cold, Scandinavians don’t stay in during the long, dark, and frigid winters. They do cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing, and during the summer months, it’s hiking, cycling, sailing, and swimming.
4.) Travel—Scandinavians travel more than any other people in the world. They enjoy the most vacation days and make good use of this time by visiting countries with warmer climates.
5.) Northern Lights—Known as the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights is one of nature’s most dazzling spectacles in the sky. Scandinavians have front-row seats to this phenomenon because of their northern latitude location.
(Taken from “Discover 7 Reasons Why Scandinavians are the Happiest,” www.hoppa.com/en/discover/7-reasons-why-scandnavians-are-the-happiest)
Interested in learning more? I highly recommend The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia by Michael Booth.
What is Their Secret?
In another article, Dr. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve and Professor John Helliwell, both affiliated with the World Happiness Report, sponsored by the UN, were interviewed why Northern Europeans were so content. They came up with these conclusions:
- Neighborly support
- Job security
- Workplace satisfaction
- State support programs for those in need, including child support
- Community spirit
- Support services for immigrants
- Concern for strangers
(Taken from “Norway is the Happiest Country in the World. What’s the secret?” By Zamira Rahim.)
Note: Thanks to my writer friends for their advice. You ladies helped me make the right decision!
What is Their Secret?
, were interviewed why Northern European