You might read ten different magazine articles and get twelve different opinions. America seems to be losing ground as a happy country. People are losing faith in the government and see opportunity as something that is less and less. Pessimism has set in.
Denmark and Sweden are some of the happiest countries in the planet. Ironically, Sweden also has one of the highest suicide rates. I guess after you discount the suicides, that cleans out the bell-curve making the remaining overall population seem happy!
I’m reading in an article by Forbes that Luxembourg is the healthiest nation on Earth. Iceland is the safest, and Switzerland is the best governed. Some of the African countries are the most unhappy with low incomes and low life expectancy.
I remember reading long ago that Bhutan was the happiest country on earth with a high level of Gross National Happiness. This ended as Bhutan introduced night-life, fashion clothes and television into their lifestyle. Buddhism seemed to keep them happier than modern culture.
My take on the matter is that countries with these attributes have longer living and healthier citizens: (1) Consumption of Red Wine (2) Fish (3) More whole foods (4) Good healthcare (5) A more casual lifestyle with closer ties to loved ones! My opinions are based on what I was reading twenty years ago. The Greeks and Italians have a much more carefree life, with lots more time spent with family, lots of healthy seafood, vegetables, and red wine. Meanwhile the Americans and Taiwanese are fighting to make a fast buck and miserable every step of the way, developing horrible diseases later in life. The irony is that the over-working Americans went from stressed, to hopeless with the economy slowing down. Why is it so hard to strike a balance in life.
During my visit to Denmark for a spiritual gathering, I was reminded daily how much I disliked their beautiful resort of a country. The people were very helpful, but there was nothing to do and it was boring. The only people who were friendly with me were muslims. The culture of the whites was very frigid to me. But, the people were very happy with their country and their government.
The attitude of the Asian and Middle-Eastern immigrants matched the attitude of the whites — they loved their country (even though they didn’t like each other).
My finding is that it is hard(er) to be happy when society has removed the basic building blocks of happiness from your life. If you are forced to work all the time and not have a family, how can you be happy? If you live near a Whole Foods store, you can still get the wine and vegetables, but the “Family” aisle where they sell ready-made families was not well stocked last time I was there.
In the USA, we live in a country of broken families and unhealthy lifestyles. It seems that the only way to be happy is to engineer your life according to very carefully prescribed guidelines. Take enough time off. Spend enough time with others. Relax. Meditate on the cosmos. Don’t think too much about the future. Enjoy what you are doing. Don’t forget about the red wine. Oh — and don’t forget to smell the flowers! In short — engineer the right attitude.
(1) Are the happiest countries in the world necessarily the happiest? Does money make you happy?
(2) Why are the Danes so happy while the Americans are not?
(3) Swedes are one of the happiest people on earth, but they also have the highest suicide rate.
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