Everyone desires to have a happy life and does the best they can to attain it. But there is only so much a person can do by him- or herself. External factors play a very important role in influencing a person’s mood. Although happiness is subjective, certain countries have been found to have happier residents than others. So if you are looking to become happier, here are the ideal countries in which to live, or even just visit!
Since 2012, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network has released its World Happiness Report each spring. 156 countries are measured and ranked. This year’s report was released on March 20, the International Day of Happiness. According to the 2019 report, the top 10 happiest countries in the world are:
- Finland (7.769 points) – #1 for the second year in a row!
- Denmark (7.600)
- Norway (7.554)
- Iceland (7.494)
- Netherlands (7.488)
- Switzerland (7.480)
- Sweden (7.343)
- New Zealand (7.307)
- Canada (7.278)
- Austria (7.246)
How Were The Countries Measured?
The results come mainly from Gallup World Poll data. Each question of the poll is rated from 0 to 10 on a scale called a Cantril ladder – 0 is the worst possible life imaginable and 10 is the best. There are six main factors measured: GDP levels, life expectancy, freedom, corruption, social support, and recent emotions. All countries are compared to Dystopia, an imaginary country created to represent the worst possible place to live, and therefore the unhappiest.
The report also looked at how happiness has evolved in these countries over the past seven years of these surveys. Overall happiness has declined around the world, due in large part to an increasing use of internet and social media, a boom in addictions, and governmental changes. Social media such as Instagram is distorting people’s self-images as they are constantly comparing themselves with the picture-perfect lives they see. Social media has also become an addiction along with more typical alcohol and drug addictions which are multiplying temptations to escape reality. Governments around the world are experiencing instability, even in the more developed and richer countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States.
Why Is Northern Europe So Happy?
The Nordic countries at the top of the ranking all feature positive aspects which support the people living in them – citizens and immigrants. Although taxes tend to be quite high in these countries (although Iceland has low taxes), people know that by paying, their social security is assured. They trust that their governments will make the right decisions and take care of their people. Those living in these countries are assured of their freedom. Northern European countries also have low crime rates and higher respect of the law and authority. This is largely cultural due to the social support between families, friends, and neighbors which has existed since the first people moved into these areas. The unhospitable environment with harsh winters meant that people had to rely on one another to survive.
These connections between people are particularly important when it comes to resilience and a country’s ability to bounce back from difficult moments. We saw this several years back after the attacks in Denmark, but also more recently in New Zealand. When residents come together to support one another and help when needed, they will ultimately heal quicker and become stronger. This is one of the keys for happiness.
The gorgeous landscapes, lifestyle trends such as hygge, excellent life expectancies, and small wealth gaps make the Scandinavian countries attractive for many people. The Swiss also benefit from long lives, interesting tax breaks, and a prosperous economy.
Other Results From The Report
The United States continues to drop in the rankings coming in at 19th place this year, two places behind Germany. Although the country ranked 10th for income, it was in 42nd place for corruption and 61st for freedom. So much for the “land of the free.” The increasing divide between the rich and the poor and isolation of people means that Americans are feeling less united than ever.
The country with the biggest drop over the past ten years is Venezuela (108th place this year), unsurprising considering the massive corruption the country has been experiencing. Its citizens are no longer able to buy most necessities and many are fleeing. Other South American countries are faring better, with Brazil in the 32nd spot (6.300) and Argentina in the 47th spot (6.086).
The five bottom countries for 2019 are Rwanda (3.334), Tanzania (3.231), Afghanistan (3.203), Central African Republic (3.083), and South Sudan (2.853).
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