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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

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The Happiest Countries on Earth, Subjective Well-being of World Happiness

Who are the happiest people in the world? Are they from the wealthiest country on earth? The richest nations in the universe? Hmmm... it is actually not very much true. USA only ranks 23rd, and most wealthiest nations do not guarantee the happiest citizens of all, based on a survey held.

Adrian G. White, from the University of Leicester’s School of Psychology, has recently done a controversial study with his recent survey on a global projection of subjective well-being (SWB): the world map of happiness. With the data collected from extensive sources, such as UNESCO (education), WHO (health), CIA (poverty), the New Economics Foundation, etc., and was involving 80,000 respondents all over the world, the survey result showed that the most peaceful and beautiful place to live on earth is... DENMARK. Why so? We'll see later on.

[Source: University of Leicester, more details on the study at]
Meanwhile, here is the top 10 list of nations with highest Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS):
  2. Switzerland
  3. Austria
  4. Iceland
  5. Bahamas
  6. Finland
  7. Sweden
  8. Bhutan
  9. Brunei Darussalam
  10. Canada
While the rest are as follows:
17. Malaysia
18. New Zealand
23. USA
26. Australia
35. Germany
41. United Kingdom
76. Thailand
82. China
90. Japan
102. South Korea
125. India

With the last 5 nations living in suffer, namely:
174. Ukraine
175. Moldova
176. Congo Democratic
177. Zimbabwe
178. Burundi

Malaysia was amazingly in the top 20 list above USA. Not bad for Singaporean and Indonesian to be in the middle of the list, happier than their neighbors in Thailand, China, Japan, Korea, and India. Even Japan, South Korea, and China which are apparently richer and wealthier than Indonesia were quite far below in SWLS ranks.

Happiness here is measured based on the subjective satisfaction of the citizens on the health level (i.e. cheap access to general practitioner, doctor, or hospital), relative wealth, and education accessibility. Healthy nations with affordable living and medical cost, own sufficient wealth and good standard of education are relatively happier.

Another important factor is the life expectancy of the people. The lower it is, the easier that they feel grateful and pleased. Meaning to say that they are very contented with what they have achieved. Whereas the higher the expectation, the more things they want, the more difficult for ones to feel satisfied and happy.

So, why Denmark?

That remains to be answered. Perhaps you should ask the Danish on this... =)
But based on the research, Danish are very blissful people for they always feel contented with their life. Well, they are not as rich as American or Japanese. They do not own private car or super luxurious house, but they have already been thankful with what they have in their life. For Danish, riding bicycle or just simply strolling to go to some places are more enjoyable and relaxing, accompanied with the fresh air outside. There is no need to care for the car maintenance, repair, petrol cost, or even the traffic jam. Isn't it nice to live your life beautifully anyway?

Yes, without a single doubt, success is definitely important. Everyone wants to live better, success in career, and wealthier from day to day. Yet, don't be the slave of it by sacrificing your value of life, family, and friends. Denmark offers free education, medical cost, and retirement funds. The unemployed can live quite nicely in subsidized Denmark. At the same time, the unemployment rate is very low, at about three per cent. All of these can be achieved by the excellent governments of Denmark.

Danish has low expectation level to life. Meaning to say that they work hard and will enjoy whatever they get as the rewards. This makes even a small little success that they achieve has already pleased them. They often can accept every failure and are ready to strive harder to go for the opposite, i.e. SUCCESS.

Most of wealthy nations in the world are probably unhappy because they will not satisfied with whatever they have got. There is the ambition to achieve more and more. Pursuing ambition and dreams are good, as long as happiness is within it. Keep chasing the happiness and you won't ever have the chance to feel and get it.

"Happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you." - Nathaniel Hawthorne

Hence lessons to learn from the Denmark as the happiest nations with citizens who:
  • are always grateful, thankful, and blissful for what they have
  • will not compare with other people of other nations
  • have dreams and realistic ambition to pursue
  • are supported by a good governance.

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Nur Suraya on June 24, 2009 at 6:14:00 PM GMT+8 said...

I wonder how come Spore can fall to number 53? I thought ppl in Spore might be happier... coz my thought the citizens there are richer...

1d on June 24, 2009 at 9:52:00 PM GMT+8 said...

Well, firstly this result was based on the SWLS study with inputs gathered from the survey data. Survey might not 100% reflect the actual situation due to various reasons such as data bias (if we are talking about statistics theory), etc. As for the detailed on how to generate the SWLS, please refer to the source website of University of Leicester. However, my opinion is that Singapore tends to have much higher cost of living compared to Malaysia though you said that Singaporeans are richer than Malaysian. And to add, based on my observation, Singaporeans look more stressful to run their daily life (perhaps too busy working long hours or any other reasons). Don't forget, richer can mean more stressful. Enough saying, I'd better stop here to avoid any controversion =)

The important thing that I want to emphasize here is that RICH won't imply HAPPINESS... I know few rich people who have health problem, died at young age, got no true friends / families etc. that I believe won't feel happy eventhough they have lots of money with them =) Though I understand that in today's life context, without money it's almost impossible to gain happiness; hence, there is a say MONEY can buy HAPPINESS. Hmmm...

Nur Suraya on June 25, 2009 at 6:28:00 PM GMT+8 said...

Thank you for the lenghty reply. I agree with your point, "RICH won't imply HAPPINESS". It is logic too as u shared cost of living is high, so high income not necessarily can give peace of mind. I have a cousin in JB who used to work in Spore, so I just give some wild thoughts from what I heard from her...

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