CBS‘ renowned program (and my father’s favorite) “60 Minutes,” did a segment about Denmark. The program, entitled, “The Pursuit of Happiness,” highlights the fact that Denmark has won the top ranking again in the scientific survey on happiness published by Leicester University in England. The episode was based on the results from the 2006 survey and report entitled, “A Global Projection of Subjective Well-being: Challenge to Positive Psychology?,” which also produced a “World Happiness Map.”
To my surprise, Denmark’s ranking is 273 and is actually tied with Switzerland! And the U.S. ranks 247, “only” 26 points behind! Seeing that that range goes down to 100 with the central African nation of Burundi being ranked last, I suppose I shouldn’t feel so bad about being an American.
One thing I want to point out in this program is that it actually addresses the issue I blogged about before in “The Cold Danish Shoulder,” that was coincidentally mentioned on the TIME magazine blog entitled, “Should Danes lower taxes or just say ‘hello’ more often?.” The issue of Danes not having a trait of overt friendliness is mentioned and a Dane admits that natives rarely show their happiness and says, “they don’t talk very much” (out in the streets).
He goes on to say that, “there’s a very highly developed body language. When, if you are stuck on the window seat of a bus, and wants to get out, and there’s a person next to you on the aisle seat, then you don’t say, ‘Excuse me, could I please get off?’ You start rattling your bags and make sort of a gesture saying, ‘I’m about to get up so please get up so I don’t have to talk to you.'”When asked if this behavior is a matter simply being shy, the Dane states, “I don’t know, it’s considered a right by Danish people not to be talked to.”
In addition, the program mentions another study conducted to determine the exact reason for the Dane’s happiness entitled, “Why Danes are smug: comparative study of life satisfaction in the European Union,” in 2006 that tested many hypotheses to determine the reason why Denmark was ranked so high on the happiness scale including genes, food, climate, native tongue, alcohol and smoking, marriage and children, general health, welfare state, exercise, prowess in sports and expectations.
The conclusion: Modest expectations.
So, now there is some light shed on this mystery. It is a Danes’ right not to be talked to and Dane’s have more realistic expectations. It’s very cut and dry. Almost as black as their sense of humor, which I love by the way. They don’t have the need to talk to you and in return, they don’t expect anyone to talk to them. It’s not a bubbly, happy-go-lucky type of attitude but rather a low-key, no nonsense existence with a happy heart singing silently. Who knew? I feel so much better now! Next time I won’t take it so personally.
What’s your opinion?