Happy Danes

In the book Thrive, Dan Buettner examines why Denmark has on the whole of one of the happiest societies.  One of the most notable things people mentioned was that in Denmark, everyone feels that they have a say and are listened to.  Families agree on what to have for dinner, students are heard in the classroom, and communities thrive on consensus.  “Lifelong health care is a Danish birthright.  Education is free, and university students are paid to go to school.”  Wow.  Status symbols, such as luxury cars, are disdained in Denmark.  One interviewee said that buying a BMW would make people wonder about your masculinity.  Most people ride bicycles, even in the rain.  Yes, they have long winters, but according to Buettner, the Danes cherish “hygge” which is the concept of transforming the home to a cozy, tranquil, candlelit sanctuary.

Interestingly, Buettner says that over 90% of the Danish population belongs to some club, group, or hobby association.  This seems to be a good antidote to the loneliness that many Americans report

Economically, Danes are wealthy, without being workaholics.  Several interviewees reported that they work less that 40 hours a week, make good salaries, have several weeks of vacation, and can take paid maternity/paternity leave.

The concept of “folk schools” is fascinating.  At these high schools, the focus is on arts and creativity, even if the student is never going to be a professional artist.  The feeling is that arts help “give people an idea of the richness of life,” according to one person.

What an interesting culture!

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