Dan Buettner is a National Geographic Explorer and the author of “The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons from the World’s Happiest People.” Here, he explains how Denmark is consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world. Following is a transcript of the video.
Dan Buettner: I actually think most of the previous stories about Danish happiness were wrong.
The first stories were that: Danes are happy because they have low expectations. Nothing could be further than the truth. Every Dane, from the moment they’re born, expects free healthcare, free education. When they get into college they expect to be paid to go to school. If they have a child, they expect to have 10 months of paid maternity or paternity leave. And they expect to be able to retire absolutely securely for the rest of their life. It’s huge expectations.
What makes Danes happy, I believe is because their government takes care of all the necessities of life — nothing can ever go too wrong in their lives — they’re free to pursue a job that really speaks to their passions.
But actually, Denmark is a place where ambition is not greatly celebrated. So, people aren’t in the rat race. They’re not always buying new clothes and new cars and trying to keep up with the Joneses, and that gives them more time to pursue their interests.
So, you have a country here where people are good at architecture and they create the best restaurants in the world and furniture design. And these are jobs suggestive of flow — of optimal using your talents, so that time can absolutely disappear.
When it comes to happiness, I think we often think of it as the attainment of joy, but actually, the bigger part of happiness is getting rid of the stresses of our daily lives. So, this notion of having your health insurance covered, your education covered, and your retirement covered is actually very huge.