To say Denmark’s not nearly as sunny and temperate as Rwanda, or even Italy, is an understatement. Yet in the Northern European country with shorter-than-average winter days and plenty of rain, policy makers and private citizens must be doing something right.
The Scandinavian nation was recently crowned the “happiest” country in the world, according to the World Happiness Report, a nearly 200-page document put together by globally renowned economists and sociologists.
What We Can Take Away From the Report
All this data about world happiness is great, but how can we apply some of the lessons from the research to our own little lives? Here are six things the happiest people have in common:
A sense of purpose: You don’t have to be Bill Gates to find purpose in life. Simply having a purpose can make life more fulfilling. Maybe that’s being a mother, or a file clerk, as Cadow was in college: “There’s some satisfaction in that,” she says, “because everything’s filed and neat, and you’re helping people. If you have the right mindset, you can feel you’re important in any job.”
Great relationships: Having good connections with friends and loved ones and “people who make you laugh” is a big contributor to happiness, says Cadow. “I work with so many people who have it all, but don’t have important relationships.” In other words, worry a bit less about how much you have, and invest more in who you have.
Religion and spirituality: ”Maybe it’s the hopefulness, maybe it’s prayer, or maybe it’s the people in the church, synagogue or any house of worship,” says Cadow. “Believing in a higher power/God, that helps.”
A less-stressful financial situation: ”You can’t work on these things like mindfulness and being in the moment if you can’t pay your bills,” she says. “I work with people who have credit card debt of $100,000 or more and are totally flipped-out. When they do something about it, when they work with a credit counselor or get rid of the high interest rates, they do feel better.”
A sense of duty: Helping others is a huge way to increase happiness, says Cadow, echoing the report’s findings that generosity and happiness are linked. “It can be in the tiniest ways,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be opening a hospital.”
Gratitude: Feeling thankful for what you do have, rather than pining for what you don’t, is a happiness secret of many of the most blissful people you know. “I know some people who carry [a gratitude list] around with them,” says Cadow. “You can just have a list on your phone. If you wake up every day and think of a few things, it really does change the course of your day.”
I guess the key is accepting where you are right now, love yourself and strive to become a better person, inspiring others in the process.
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